The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

A 3rd generation San Franciscan, Carol DeVincenzi was hoping to stay in her home for as long as possible, but knew that when the time came for her next move, she would choose a non-profit Life Plan Community in the city that she had called home for most of her life. When she started looking and found San Francisco Towers, she knew it was the place for her. “It has the most amenities like air conditioning and ample elevators, and has such beautifully designed apartments,” Carol says.

Carol had friends who had set up charitable gift annuities, and they were very pleased with both the income and the impact of the tax deduction. She says, “With the current rates, I thought this would be a good source of income and an opportunity to support the Circle of Friends Resident Assistance Fund.”

Carol had always felt the call to help those in need, especially older people who could no longer support themselves. She remembers, “When my mother was in an Assisted Living community near the end of her life, I remember other residents that had to leave because they had run out of money. I remember feeling so terrible about it and wishing there was something I could do to help. Donating to the Circle of Friends gives me a chance to help.”

Charitable Gift Annuity: The Gift That Gives Back

A Charitable Gift Annuity can provide stable income in unstable times — and provide a legacy of support for your community or favorite program. It’s a gift that pays you back.

You can establish a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) with the Covia Foundation with cash or stock and create fixed, stable income for your lifetime. Because the payment rate is fixed based on your age, your income never changes. As an example, the payment rate for someone aged 81 is 6.7%. Plus, a portion of your income payment could be tax free. If you establish a gift annuity with stock you’ve held for a number of years, you can bypass the capital gains tax you would owe if you simply sold the stock. Ultimately, the remainder in your CGA will benefit the community or program you designate.

For information or assistance on establishing a CGA, contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director, at 925.956.7414 or kmiller@covia.org

*This article was originally posted in the Fall 2020 edition of Community Matters 

When Mia Lang first started looking at Life Plan Communities, she knew it was just exploration, and she wasn’t ready to make a transition. After all, she had a full life with friends and social activities and still worked part time as a hemodialysis nurse at UCSF at age 78 after retiring from a full time nursing career at the UCSF Medical Center at age 60. And then she looked at Spring Lake Village.

“As soon as I visited Spring Lake Village, I knew that was it,” she said. “I could not have chosen a better place to spend this chapter of my life. Living here is fulfilling, it’s community, there is nothing lacking. We all go through whatever we’re facing together; there’s so much support.”

Her childhood was marked by the war years on the border between the former Czechoslovakia and Austria. After fleeing to a refugee camp in Austria, her family moved to Germany as the war ended. She went into nursing because “you chose something that was practical that you could make a living at” and set out to travel the world. She worked as a nurse in Germany, Switzerland, England, and, eventually, the United States.

An interesting community with a wide variety of people has always been of interest to her. “When I first came to New York, I found an apartment in what was then Spanish Harlem,” she said. “It was only $60 a month but I loved the variety of cultures. I was so curious because I came from a background where everyone was the same.”

She was eventually drawn to the Bay Area because of her love of San Francisco, its variety of cultures, and its proximity to nature. The natural surroundings of Sonoma County and the regional parks were part of what drew her to Spring Lake Village.

“The people at Spring Lake Village are a real community,” she says. “My friends from the Bay Area who visit are very impressed and envy me for the quality of my life here. There are pockets of friendship here for so many different interests and activities — and people are warm and welcoming.”

It is that sense of community that was at the heart of Mia’s recent decision to update her estate plan and leave a gift to the Covia Foundation. “My nieces and nephews are all doing fine, and I’ve loved living at Spring Lake Village,” she reflected. “I want to leave my estate to the Covia Foundation to benefit this wonderful community.”

So after a lifetime of caring for others in nursing, Mia’s legacy gift will be able to continue caring for the community of people that makes Spring Lake Village such a special place.

For information on making a legacy gift in your will or estate plans, contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director, at kmiller@covia.org or 925.956.7414

Covia Foundation Heritage Society

The Covia Foundation Honor Roll of Giving at each Life Plan Community celebrates those who support Covia communities and programs with charitable gifts. The Heritage Society section of the Honor Roll celebrates those who plan a legacy gift by including the Foundation in their planned gifts, estate plans or wills.

If you have made such a provision, please let us know so that we may add your name to the Heritage Society of the Covia Foundation Honor Roll. Contact Julie Hoerl, Covia Foundation Development Manager, at jhoerl@covia.org or 925.956.7393.

*This article was originally posted in the Fall 2020 edition of Community Matters

Residents from St. Paul’s Towers, San Francisco Towers, and Spring Lake Village gathered with the Covia Foundation in August via Zoom to celebrate and raise awareness for the Circle of Friends Resident Assistance Fund. With hors d’oeuvres and special beverages sponsored by Morrison Community Living, friends and neighbors raised a glass to their vibrant communities and the supporters of this important cause. Mary Sharman, a resident at St. Paul’s Towers, says, “The party and delicious treats were an uplifting event. I’m pleased so many residents could join our party and learn about this important fund. I am grateful that our community supports this cause.”

Those being helped by the Circle of Friends fund have an average age of over 90 years, with 40% living with a higher level of care. They have been part of their communities on average for more than 16 years.

“The Circle of Friends is so close to the hearts of our residents,” said Covia Foundation Executive Director Katharine Miller. “We are so grateful for the support of this fund that provides assistance for those in our Life Plan Communities who outlive their resources.”

Covia Foundation rounded out the day’s celebration with a prize drawing. Prizes included personalized dinners from the Executive Chefs, themed gift baskets, and a Google Nest Max Hub, a video smart speaker.

The event immediately showed the effect of its success, with our prize winners reaching out with excitement and gratitude, and many residents making donations online or reaching out to the Foundation with questions about planned gifts and estate gifts. Said one supporter: “This is a great cause for us to get behind because this could happen to any of us.”

*This article was originally posted in the Fall 2020 edition of Community Matters

Throughout the recent challenging times, the strength of resilient community and caring connections with one another have never been more apparent. For more than 50 years, members of the Covia Foundation Heritage Society have helped to build the foundation of that resiliency. Heritage Society members pledge a future gift to Covia Foundation to help support their community, the Circle of Friends Assistance Fund, or a cherished Covia program. These legacy gifts throughout the years have buoyed the resilience, quality, and strength of Covia communities and services.

You don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference. You just have to plant a gift in your estate plans. Your wishes will grow from there, enriching the community of caring and services for seniors.

What types of gifts can I leave to the Covia Foundation in my will?
You may leave items such as cash, property, land, securities or real estate. Every gift, no matter how small or large, can make a difference in the lives of seniors.

Can I support a specific program in my community with my gift?
Yes, you may support a specific community or program. You may also designate your gift be used where the need is greatest. These unrestricted gifts are especially valuable, as they provide flexibility to respond to changing needs and priorities.

Is a gift through my will tax deductible?
The Covia Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Charitable gifts are deductible to the full extent of the law. However, we suggest you seek advice from your tax advisor. Administrative charges are not deducted from gifts.

I already have a will — can I still leave a gift to the Covia Foundation?
Yes. Simply specify the Covia Foundation as a beneficiary of a particular account (such as a savings account or a retirement account). You can also amend your will with simple language (referred to as a codicil) to include a gift to the Covia Foundation.

How do I get started?
Please contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director (925.956.7414 or kmiller@covia.org), to discuss your priorities and options. The Covia Foundation receives and administers all charitable gifts made to support Covia Communities, Covia Affordable Communities, and Covia Community Services.

Please notify us of your intentions to provide a bequest gift so that we may include your name as a member of the Heritage Society on the Honor Roll of Donors.

*This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of Community Matters

The Covia Foundation recently hosted an online presentation to provide insights on the recent changes to U.S. tax laws and what impact that might have.

“As I speak with residents and friends out in our communities, we’re getting a lot of questions about recent tax law changes,” says Katharine Miller, Executive Director of the Covia Foundation. “We thought it would be good to share an overview on some of these changes – especially now since many of us have time to catch up on all of that planning and some of those details.”

To provide some information, the Foundation invited Bill McMorran of Green Oak Consulting to provide some basics on the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act – “880 pages of fun” – while emphasizing that “as always, you need to talk to your own advisors because they do know your situation better than anyone else.”

Although the new tax deadline is July 15th, “It’s really important if you have a refund coming to file as soon as possible.” Although McMorran filed his taxes and those of his mother on the same day, McMorran received the direct deposit into his account after five working days, while his mother received her paper check about a week later. “We’re seeing that the direct deposit accounts are the ones that receive priority – or at least they’re moving them out faster,” he says.

On the other hand, if you expect to owe taxes, “you have 90 more days to file your federal returns, and California gives you until July 15 as well to file your tax return. So if you owe money, figure it out, and then sit on it until about July 10, then send it in.” The July 15 deadline also extends to contributions to retirement funds.

Estimated tax payment deadlines have also been extended. Your April 15 first quarterly estimated taxes for the United States and for California are now due July 15. In a recent change, the June 15 second quarterly payment to the US and to California are also now due on July 15.

McMorran noted that “probably one of the best pieces of news I think anyone could expect or have asked for is that, if you take a required minimum distribution out of your IRA, you do not have to take it this year.” Those who choose not to take the distribution will have a lower income and, accordingly, lower taxes.

“If you’ve already taken your required minimum distribution in the past 60 days, you can put it back in,” explains McMorran. He refers people and their financial advisors to section 2203 of the CARES Act to determine what’s best for them. 

Finally, McMorran encourages people to take advantage of this time to review their overall estate plan. “Have you looked at your estate plans in the past three to five years?” he asks. He suggests making sure that your beneficiaries, trustees, and legally responsible parties are all current and able to fulfill the duties assigned to them. “Also, while we have a lot of time on our hands, think about your own legacy: how to best benefit people, the organizations you care about, what really matters, and what you want to share with the future.”

If you would like to see McMorran’s full presentation, as well as another video that goes into more depth about other planning topics, please contact Katharine Miller at the Covia Foundation at kmiller@covia.org and she will send you the online video links.  Covia Foundation will be offering more useful information by video in the future.

The Foundation is available to provide support and insight into your financial planning, charitable giving, charitable remainder trusts, charitable gift annuities, and legacy planning. You can read the Foundation’s most recent Community Matters newsletter to learn about Covia’s impact in the greater community and how gifts and donations to the Foundation help provide critical services to older adults.

The Covia Foundation recently announced the recipients of the 2019 Darby Betts grant funds.

Established in 2005 as a partnership between Covia and the Episcopal Diocese of California, the Darby Betts Fund supports services and programs that benefit seniors in the Episcopal Dioceses of California, Northern California, and El Camino Real.

In 2019, the fund was able to disburse $84,000 among 14 organizations, providing $13,000 more than last year’s grants.

Grant recipients and programs for 2019 are:

• Alliance on Aging: Tax Counseling for the Elderly
• Art With Elders: Art classes
• Church of the Epiphany, Vacaville: Community Meals Program
• CIC Ministries: Eyeglass Project
• Contra Costa Interfaith Housing: Housing Supportive Services
• Home Match: Home Readiness Incentives
• Market Day: New Market at Shires Memorial, San Jose
• Epiphany Lutheran & Episcopal Church, Marina: Breakfast with Friends
• Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco: Senior Center, Healthy Aging
• Lavender Seniors of the East Bay : Support Group and Newsletter
• River City Food Bank, Sacramento: Most Important Meal Program
• The Gubbio Project, San Francisco: Adult Day & Respite Program
• The Living Room Center, Santa Rosa: Homeless Transit improvements
• Trinity Center, Walnut Creek: Services for homeless adults

The Reverend Canon Darby W. Betts served as the Chairman of Covia (then Episcopal Homes Foundation) as well as the Archdeacon for Elders for the Diocese of California. He was the driving force behind the development of the Covia Communities St. Paul’s Towers and Spring Lake Village as well as many other initiatives to serve seniors. The fund was named in his honor.

To qualify for the Darby Betts grant, organizations must operate on a nonprofit basis and demonstrate a clear and dedicated focus on services and programs that benefit older adults living throughout the region covered by the three Episcopal Dioceses in Northern California – from its northern border down to San Luis Obispo. The grants are determined by a committee of representatives from the Episcopal Impact Fund and Covia.

Ruth’s Table remembers fondly their friend and participant Chuck Raymond, who was an accomplished architectural designer with a love of creative expression. Chuck died in May of 2018 and made a significant gift in his will to support Ruth’s Table, leaving a legacy to creative aging.

Charles “Chuck” Raymond’s passions in life included design, architecture and an extensive network of close friends. Mr. Raymond graduated on full scholarship with honors from the University of Michigan, School of Architecture. He established a well-respected architectural firm, Raymond Designs of Atlanta, Georgia, concentrating for 30 years on commercial airport retail.

Long-time friend Jerry Brown, Covia Senior Director of Affordable Communities, recalls meeting Chuck through a mutual friend who was on his staff as an interior designer. “Chuck was like Cary Grant,” Jerry recalls. “He was debonair, intelligent, and loved the arts, fashion and design.”

Chuck also loved to travel, visiting museums and enjoying the cuisine and culture from London to Paris, Barcelona, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, and Buenos Aires. Jerry remembers the New Year’s Eve dinner and fireworks he shared with Chuck in 2005 at Jules Verne atop the Eiffel Towers. “We also shared family Thanksgiving dinner in 2009 at Windows of the Worlds atop New York’s World Trade Center,” Jerry recalls.

Chuck retired to Palm Springs in 2017 and, through his friendship with Jerry, discovered the range of programs supporting creative expression at Ruth’s Table at Bethany Center. Chuck was an avid art collector with special interest in Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. At Ruth’s Table, he purchased two pieces from the gallery showing of artist Jennifer Ewing’s “Spirit Boats,” meant to symbolize passage and metaphysically hold a person as they journey.  

Ruth’s Table Director Jessica McCracken remembers fondly that Chuck participated in the Ruth’s Table community production of its 50th Anniversary artwork “Crochet Jam” by artist Ramekon Artwisters. The piece hangs in the lobby of Bethany Center.  “Through it we’ll always have a little bit of Chuck’s spirit with us,” she said. 

Jerry noted that Chuck will be remembered by residents, participants, staff, and board members for his love of the arts, fashion, puns, cuisine and world travel that he connected with the diverse seniors of Bethany Center and Ruth’s Table.

Chuck’s estate gift to the Bethany Center Foundation will help support programs at Ruth’s Table that bring people together in creative expression, inspiring Bethany Center residents in creativity and wellness exercise to stimulate the brain, the body and the spirit.

If you have included Covia Foundation or the Bethany Center Foundation in your will or estate plan, please let us know so that we can say thank you. For information on how to include a program or community you care about in your will or estate plan, please contact Covia Foundation Executive Director Katharine Miller at 925.956.7414 or kmiller@covia.org. We’d love to help you make a difference, supporting something you care about.

Happy National Estate Planning Awareness Week! Estate planning is an often overlooked but important part of maintaining financial wellness. The financial aspects of estate planning include assessing your personal situation, creating a will and possibly a trust, planning for disposition of accounts (like life insurance or retirement accounts), naming a power of attorney, gift planning, and much more. It’s important to regularly review your plan and keep it updated so that it relates to your current life situation.

In honor of this week, we’re sharing some gift giving tips from the Covia Foundation that directly relate to estate planning. Check out these tips, consult your advisors, and remember to regularly review your personal estate plan to make sure it is accurate and up to date.

Make a Gift Through Your Will

When people think about estate planning, writing a will is what often comes to mind. A will is an important tool to make sure your wishes are carried out after your death – including gifts to your favorite charitable organizations.

One of the most common gifts in a will is a gift of a specific dollar amount. Another common approach is to leave a percentage of the balance of your estate that is left after specific gifts are made to family members (this is generally called a residuary gift). Every gift, no matter how small or large, can make a difference.

A will can be easily amended with language (referred to as a codicil) to include a gift to a charitable organization.

Individual Retirement Account Gifts

If you leave your Individual Retirement Account to a child or loved one, you also leave them with the obligation to pay taxes on the money that is distributed from the IRA. You, too, must pay taxes on the money you are required to withdraw for your IRA each year—but recent tax policy changes mean you can make charitable gifts today with those funds and they won’t increase your taxable income.

Once you are over the age of 70.5, you are required to make minimum distributions from your IRA. Instead of taking the funds directly, you can direct your IRA trustee instead to make a payment to a charity (or charities) directly from your IRA account. These qualified charitable distributions (up to the $100,000 maximum per year) are not added to your gross income, so they are not taxable to you.

Even if you do not itemize deductions on your 1040 personal income tax return, you’ll come out ahead making charitable gifts this way. Just be sure you complete these qualified charitable donations from your IRA before the end of the calendar year.

Beneficiary Designations

You can leave a gift to charity from an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified retirement plan using a ‘beneficiary designation.’ Generally, you fill out a simple form with your plan administrator naming the charitable organization as a beneficiary of a death benefit payable under the retirement plan.

The designated portion will be paid directly to the organization, not to your estate, and is not designated by a will. Paying these benefits directly to charity means that neither the estate nor any beneficiary of the estate are subject to income tax attributable to the retirement plan.

Charitable Gift Annuity: The Gift that Gives Back

What if you want to make a charitable gift in your will but don’t know how much you might be able to commit? A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) can be a tax-smart way to benefit both you and your community. This gift plan allows you to make a charitable gift today that provides you with regular fixed income. After your death, this gift goes to the cause you care about. Because the payment rate is fixed based on your age, your income will never change and a portion of your payment could be tax free. (As an example, the rate for someone aged 81 is 7.5%)

A Charitable Gift Annuity offers other tax planning benefits. The gift annuity provides you an immediate income tax deduction in the year it is established and you can bypass capital gains tax if you fund the gift with appreciated stocks. Plus, you get the joy of planning your legacy today. With the Covia Foundation, you can choose to have your gift used where it is most needed, to support your retirement community, or to help a program you care about.

More Information

It is always best to consult with your legal, tax, and/or financial advisors before making any significant change to your will or estate plan. If you are interested in learning more about estate planning, have any questions, or are considering a gift to the Covia Foundation, please contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director, at 925-956-7414 or kmiller@covia.org.

A poet since she was a young child, San Francisco Towers resident Sally Love Saunders’ eyes light up when she talks about helping others get in touch with their creativity. “I’m doing it for me because I enjoy it,” she says. Sally has been a poet, poet-in-residence and teacher of poetry in a wide range of situations — with kids in schools, in senior centers, and at migrant labor camps. She was instrumental in developing poetry therapy and worked in Philadelphia mental hospitals as a Certified Poetry Therapist for many years.

Sally has six published books of poetry and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Times International, The London Times, The Denver Post, and among over 300 other anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Her lesson plan for teaching poetry writing was published in The Christian Science Monitor.

She has shared poetry all her life. From her young days growing up on a farm in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to her college years on the East Coast, she would muse to herself, “What can I pass on to others?” The answer was poetry. She received many grants to take poetry into underserved areas such as Appalachia and inner-city libraries in Philadelphia, to mention a few.

Her family, like many, is far flung and she was looking for connection with others when she discovered Covia’s Well Connected program. She participates in Well Connected programs, has taught poetry to some Well Connected presenters, and has been a generous supporter of Well Connected creativity programming with a gift to the Covia Foundation.

She has also shared her poetry presentations throughout other Covia communities — visiting Spring Lake Village in Santa Rosa, Webster House in Palo Alto, St. Paul’s Towers in Oakland, and Presidio Gate Apartments in San Francisco. She looks forward to presenting again at San Francisco Towers this Fall and working with Bethany Center residents in San Francisco soon. She does this all as a volunteer.

It is serendipitous that she relocated to the West Coast. After college, as she was traveling to Japan to study haiku, she had a layover in San Francisco. “As soon as I stepped out of the plane and enjoyed the coastal air, I knew I wanted to live here,” she says.

For many years, she lived a few blocks from San Francisco Towers and saw it under construction as it rose to its current place overlooking the City skyline. Over the years, she got to know people and staff from the Towers from poetry workshops. Now, as a resident, “I am a very happy camper.”

*This article was previously published in the Summer 2019 edition of Community Matters