The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

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.

Twenty people from Covia attended the 2019 LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo, held October 27-30 in San Diego California. Representing Covia’s Communities, Affordable Housing, Community Services, Support Services, and Foundation, they were informed and inspired by lectures, sessions, exhibits, demonstrations, as well their colleagues from non-profit aging service providers from around the country.

In total, over 8,000 people attended the 2019 conference, which offered 179 educational programs as well as an exhibit hall showcasing products and services for seniors and senior living ranging from architects to in-home health care products to wellness programs and equipment.

Christina Spence, Executive Director of San Francisco Towers, was particularly impressed by keynote speakers Marcus Buckingham and Dan Heath. Speaking at the opening session, Buckingham addressed Nine Lies About Work, encouraging listeners to “replay what works” while on Tuesday, Heath emphasized creating “peak moments.” Spence was impressed by “the statistically-proven impact certain ‘peak’ moments such as first-day and transitions can have on residents and staff at our communities. This is a powerful opportunity for us to create great experiences!”

Both Lizette Suarez, Director of Well Connected Español, and Rod Moshiri, Executive Director of Webster House, each attending their first LeadingAge conference, learned something worthwhile in the sessions they attended.  Suarez says she learned tips on bridging the generation gap while Moshiri got to explore the differences between operations for for-profit and non-profit senior living organizations. But you didn’t need to be a first-time attendee to learn something new. Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer, attending her 33rd LeadingAge conference, participated in a session that taught her about a better approach to risk management of resident agreements.

Covia also provided educational information for attendees. Amber Carroll, Director of Well Connected, and Katie Wade, Director of Social Call, presented a workshop on Building Connections, One Call at a Time, demonstrating how a gracious presence, creativity, and connection provide outcomes of health – and joy. As she experienced her first LeadingAge conference, Carroll reported, “I like the diversity of the educational sessions and find myself interested in other arenas of the senior living space.” Though she was presenting, she learned from those who attended the session as well. “LeadingAge is a different demographic from most of the aging conferences we attend.  I’m always trying to understand how to break our cool community services into housing communities and got some good feedback from session attendees.  Based on this, Well Connected has prioritized the strategy process around monetizing our programs in senior communities.”

Educational sessions were not the only benefit from attending the conference. Chris Dana, Covia’s VP of Information Technology, reports that “time spent with colleagues and vendors” was the best part of the event. With “a ton of new technology start-ups ‘invading’ senior living,” he expects that in future he will “spend more time on the expo floor and less time in the educational sessions.”

Covia also played a role in the social events around the meeting. As an experience sponsor for the annual LeadingAge Inclusion Reception, Covia co-hosted what LeadingAge described as “an unparalleled nightlight experience” at PARQ in the Gaslamp district. As the LeadingAge website explains, “This event pays tribute to those who have paved the way for diversity and inclusion in aging services and celebrates the work our members do every day providing high-quality supports and services for all.” Jessica McCracken, Director of Ruth’s Table, was one of the M.C.s of the Monday night event, which ran from 9:00 until midnight.

Mary Linde, Executive Director of St. Paul’s Towers, sums up the experience: “I’ve been attending LeadingAge conferences for over 20 years.  My favorite part of the conference is always seeing old colleagues and making new connections. The classes are good, but the networking is the best.  At this year’s conference I learned about new technology – an app to connect staff to their departments – that I thought may be useful to explore.  I also was extremely proud to be part of Covia as a host of the LGBT Inclusion party…what an event, what a great company to bring people together like this.  Such a celebration of life!”

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.

On August 3rd, over 170 residents from Covia Communities gathered at Spring Lake Village for the fourth annual Circle of Friends luncheon. This summer luncheon raises awareness for and supports the Circle of Friends Fund, which provides assistance to Covia life plan community residents who have outlived their resources.

This year’s luncheon pulled from the theme of the Golden State of California for food and decoration inspiration. Executive chefs and their staff from St. Paul’s Towers, San Francisco Towers, and Spring Lake Village prepared a four course meal that spanned everything from heirloom tomatoes with burrata and aged balsamic to a princess cake paired with coffee and tea. Beyond the luncheon, attendees participated in a raffle and wine pull with wine donated from Covia executive staff, the Circle of Friends planning committee, and Kendall Jackson Wineries.

The Circle of Friends luncheon wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the planning committee, which is made up of Covia Communities residents, members of the Covia Foundation and partners from Morrison Community Living. Committee members are brought together by their desire to raise awareness for the Circle of Friends Fund.

Committee member and Spring Lake Village resident Patricia Wilson notes, “when we signed up to help out on organizing the first Circle of Friends luncheon in 2016, it was simply the contagious enthusiasm of creating an event to enlarge the Circle — the Circle of Friends. Then each successive year, it has been the creative challenge to increase the participation in the Circle. It has gone from ‘creating an event’ to ‘how can we increase the awareness of what the Circle of Friends means and does.’ The best part, we are always thinking, ‘what can we do better?’”

The Circle of Friends Fund helps Life Plan residents who have outlived their resources to pay their residential fees. Residents who receive support are on average in their 90s, have lived in a Covia community for over 16 years and are primarily single, having outlived their partners. Part of Covia’s promise is that residents will be provided with support whenever they need it, and the Circle of Friends Fund is one way Covia helps fulfill this promise within the communities.

In attendance at the event was Van Moller, an acclaimed pianist and long-time resident of Spring Lake Village, who delights the community with weekly performances. Moller, who says, “moving to Spring Lake Village in 2004 gave me the opportunity to play and sing more than at any other time in my life”, has created a DVD of his piano performances, now available as a thank you gift for those who donate to the Circle of Friends Fund. This gift is an extension of Moller’s enjoyment of “sharing his love of music with neighbors and friends at Spring Lake Village.”

This year’s Circle of Friends luncheon was a rousing success from the participation by the communities to the delicious meal crafted by Morrison Community Living chefs. If you are interested in giving to the Circle of Friends Fund, please visit www.covia.org/giving.

The 8th Annual Celtic Cup Golf Tournament and Gala Reception brought together more than 220 guests to raise a quarter of a million dollars to support services for seniors in need. Thanks to our many sponsors, golfers and community friends who joined us at Berkeley Country Club and made this year’s tournament the best yet!

“The energy of the day was truly remarkable,” says Katharine Miller, Executive Director of the Covia Foundation. “We couldn’t do this without the enthusiasm and involvement of the many people who partner with Covia to promote life-changing services for seniors.”

Over 200 corporate and individual participants, including our title sponsor City Building, Inc., supported the event. The sold-out golf tournament on the cool and sunny course provided scenic bay views throughout the day. Mike Acosta, Vince Baldwin, Steve Baldwin, and Bob Giarusso won the tournament in a playoff against Barry Johnson, Jenny Noymany, Mark Marshall, and John Durham.

The evening auction, hosted by Liam Meyclem from KCBS’ Eye on the Bay, provided its own entertainment as participants tried to outbid each other for a Farm to City Private Dinner at San Francisco Towers or an evening with Covia CEO Kevin Gerber. The auction raised more than $80,000, with almost half coming from fund-a-need bidding to support Covia Community Services and Covia Affordable Communities as attendees learned the stories of seniors whose lives have been touched by Covia through a video created for the event.

For going above and beyond in their service to seniors and senior living, and their generous support to Covia over the years, the team from Morrison Community Living was the recipient of this year’s Celtic Cup.

“It was a successful event,” says Miller. “But more importantly, the funds we raised make a difference, ensuring that seniors have a safe home and remain connected with the greater community. We’re grateful for the generosity of all who attended.”

You can see photos of the event in an album on our Facebook page.

The Covia Foundation’s 8th Annual Celtic Cup golf tournament, dinner and live auction takes place Monday, April 29th at the historic Berkeley Country Club. Funds raised by the event will support affordable housing and programs to reduce social isolation, provide for immediate needs and emergencies, and improve food security for seniors. Registration is now open

The Berkeley Country Club, located in the hills above the Bay with three bridge views, has a personal connection to Covia: Mike Westall, the President of the Board, resides with his wife at St. Paul’s Towers, a Covia Life Plan Community in Oakland, California.

The golf course, designed by famed architect Robert Hunter in 1920, was fully restored in 2011, receiving the first ever Award for Excellence from the prestigious American Golf Architects Association.

This year’s Gala Dinner and Live Auction will be hosted by Liam Mayclem, Emmy Award-winning Co-Host of CBS Eye on the Bay and the KCBS Foodie Chap. He and his partner recently opened Noe’s Cantina in San Francisco.

Liam recently visited Oak Center Towers, a Covia Affordable Community, to see Covia’s services in action. “In a short time, Liam was able to meet several residents, some of whom recognized him from his media work. I can tell he’s going to bring a really personal touch to the event,” says Julie Hoerl, Covia Foundation Development Manager.

Mayclem is also contributing personally to the live auction. “He told us that he loves to do auction items that bring donors together with the mission,” Hoerl says. “In addition to providing a private event at his restaurant, he offered to host a dinner at a Covia Affordable Community for auction winners and seniors who live at the community. He’s even going to provide the recipe for his family’s Shepherd’s Pie.”

Other Live Auction items include a Hawaii getaway, Wine Country weekends, and hard-to-come-by sporting event tickets.

The gala dinner and auction will take place in the Berkeley Country Club’s English Tudor-style clubhouse, a historic building fully restored in 2002, with panoramic views of the Bay.

Funds raised from the event support Covia’s Affordable Housing and Community Services programs, offering housing and services for low-income or isolated seniors. In the past, funds raised from the Celtic Cup have helped open new Market Day locations, supported needed life-safety improvements in Affordable Senior Housing, and provided emergency funding for low income seniors.

Golf registration is available for individuals and foursomes and includes the evening reception, dinner and live auction. Evening-only tickets are also available. Individuals or foursomes can register online. Space is limited. For more information, visit CelticCup.org or contact the Covia Foundation at 925.956.7448.

As a nonprofit organization with values rooted in service, Covia is committed to supporting the communities we serve. We find new ways to help people, especially those at risk, live well and age well, anywhere they call home.

To fulfill this commitment, we raise more than $2 million annually through the Covia Foundation and pledge 2% of Covia Communities’ annual gross revenue towards our charitable activities. Most importantly, we strive to live out our values in everything we do. We couldn’t be more proud of the work our staff, our residents, our donors, and our organization do all year round. 

Our Calendars are Always Full

We have a multitude of programs and services dedicated to supporting our residents, our communities, and seniors who live in and around the areas we serve. This year’s Social Accountability Report looks at a year in the life, so you can see a sampling of the ways we help seniors every day. The report highlights the impact our work is having in the communities we serve. 

Click here to download a copy of Covia’s 2018 Social Accountability Report.