FINANCIAL PARTNERS"Pay it Forward"Program IntroductionIn lieu of our traditional holiday gifts, we are pleased to share with you our program called "Pay It Forward".We have asked randomly identified clients and friends to be on our team. Each team member has been sent a $100 VISA Gift Card, and we have asked them to provide this gift card to someone in need – preferably a relative stranger. They, in turn, have shared their stories and provided us with great inspiration. We hope you will also find inspiration in these stories and that this holiday gift is one that finds meaning with you!Stories to shareJoel,It was shortly after thanksgiving when a co worker of mine shared with me two people she knew that needed assistance for things that were their "dreams". One was a blind lady needing a talking watch so she would know the time and the other was a veteran than was in need of an electric razor. I purchased both of those things with your card and was able to add to the pay it forward effort you started. Thank you for giving us this opportunity, and again sorry for such a late report. We had a wonderful holiday and hope you did also.As you can probably guess by the length it took me to share this gift, I took this task very seriously. My gift was shared with a young Mother that just left an abusive relationship. To us, $100 is a night out for dinner, for my recipient, it' gas for the month or food for her and her son. I pray this money will ease her financial worries over the holidays. I feel so blessed to be able to share your gift.May you and your family have a Blessed Christmas!Joel,Thank you for your Pay It Forward approach to showing appreciation at Christmas. In paying it forward, we decided to double the impact by matching your gift. Like others, we struggled with how to choose the recipient. In the end, we decided to give the gift to somebody who was “right under our nose” – our cleaning lady. She has struggled on many different levels, all of which seem to lead to financial struggles. However, through all of this, I know that she has tried to put her trust in her faith. I admire her fortitude and stick to it attitude. I knew that she was having a difficult time paying for some necessary medical bills – from dental to vision to prescriptions. As you can imagine, it brought tears to both of us, when I was able to explain this one-time gift at a time when she needed a little extra help. I know that she very much appreciated it, and I found it to be a blessing for me as well.Thanks and best wishes to you and your family for a blessed holiday.In talking with someone in our parish who works with Hawthorne Hill, the shelter for women and children, we found a family in need. Hawthorne Hill recently had a mother come to them, completely devastated at the situation they were in -- one she never expected to be in. A single mother, homeless, 6 months pregnant, with a 4 year old son, she cried during the entire intake process. However, with her determination, she quickly met the requirements to move into transitional housing. According to the Hawthorne Hill staff, not only could she benefit from the gift, but she truly deserves it as she prepares to move into her independent housing next week. To help her get started, in addition to the gift card, we also provided her with cleaning supplies (an often requested item when they move into their own place), a coloring book and crayons for her son (to keep him occupied during the move!), and a nice lotion and perfume bath set -- what pregnant mother doesn' deserve a little pampering! We made arrangements to drop it off today, and when we got there, they informed us that she was currently hospitalized with some pregnancy complications! So devastating! They are holding her spot at the shelter and her transitional housing -- and her gifts. In the grand scheme of things, a small effort, but hopefully something that will give her hope in 2014.Thanks for sharing this gift with us. It was a great opportunity to get reconnected with Hawthorne HillJoel,Over a decade ago, Bob and Carol (not their real names) were childless, but believed that God was calling them to become foster parents. They eventually adopted five children, from several mothers, but with five different fathers. That scenario is a tough start for any child coming into this world, especially when there were times the children had to hide in a closet or under the bed while their biological mother entertained another male companion. Fortunately through adoption, a new family was formed with Bob and Carol who wanted children, and four children deeply in need of a stable, loving and safe home environment. Sadly, the newly formed family over the next decade struggled with various levels of dysfunction and recently has ended in porce. Carol, an attender at the church where we are members, has been unable to find employment and has struggled to provide for her family as a single parent. The four older children are now trying to live on their own. The youngest of the children has recently found great pleasure in playing JV basketball and is truly thrilled when Carol can attend both his home and away games. In God’s perfect timing, she recently shared with us that she would be unable to follow him throughout the basketball season because of a lack of gas money. You can only imagine her reaction when the Pay It Forward gift was presented to her with no strings attached.What a wonderful idea, Joel! Thank you so much for allowing us to share in the blessing of paying it forward. It has challenged us to look differently at this season of gift giving and the needs and struggles that many families face on a daily basis.May God richly bless you and your family during this joyous Christmas celebration of the birth of our Savior.Hi, Joel.This past weekend, we used the card to buy gifts for children in the Christmas Angels program. Our kids helped us pick out the "Angels" and pick out the gifts. We usually do this every year. However, with your gift card we were able to help out more "Angels.Thank you.Joel,Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the “Pay It Forward” program and for your extraordinary generosity. This program is making a wonderful impact on so many lives. We have chosen to give the gift card to the Family Promise of Greater Des Moines organization which helps homeless families achieve stable housing and income. The card was given to a homeless single father with 2 children. The wife/mother left the family and without her income the family eventually lost their home. The family is struggling to make ends meet and this has given them some Christmas spirit.We are grateful and feel so blessed in our lives! Thank you again for including us in your program.Hi Joel,We plan on going to the Extended Hands Food Bank in Fountain Hills to give them your Pay It Forward gift card and let them decide who should receive it.Thanks!Dear Joel,I want to thank you for allowing us to be part of your “pay it forward”. We hear and see so many people all around us who are being affected by what is going on in the world and sometimes we feel so helpless. This is becoming the norm and not the exception…So it wasn’t that difficult to find someone who is on bad times… This “pay it forward” program is a blessing in disguised and we talked about who we thought we could pass this on to and decided on a single woman we’ve heard about through our parish . The day before I received your email regarding “pay it forward” we decided to buy a $100 grocery store gift card for this woman. How ironic that the exact dollar amount we had intended to give her came to us the very next day through you and “pay it forward”. We will now be giving her $200 in hopes of letting her know that God really does work in mysterious ways. She lost her job, became disabled because of an injury and the medical bills were so outrageous that she had to file bankruptcy. She had to walk away from her home of 20 yrs and is told that she does not qualify for food stamps. She now lives in a small apartment collecting only what disability has afforded her and is going to food banks for food. Our hearts break for these people who have been affected by this economy. We are holding our own and we help our kids as much as we can and pray to God that he continues to bless our family with health and hope that “paying it forward” will change the world for the better.Hi Joel,Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to be a part of your annual Pay It Forward program! We feel richly blessed by the opportunity! Here' how we have chosen to pay it forward:First, I need to provide a little background...my husband’s sister is a second grade teacher. We remember back to four years ago at this time of year when a little boy (one of her second graders), was diagnosed with cancer in his leg. She was deeply touched by this little guy, and kept us updated on his status as the school year progressed. Unfortunately, his leg was amputated, but it was necessary to save his life. Anyway, this young boy was in our prayers a lot that year, and he survived that bout with cancer.So, moving to the present... we received your Pay It Forward letter earlier this week. At the time, my husband and I talked about who we might give the gift card to, but no one immediately came to mind...so we decided to just think about it for a few days. So there your letter sat on our counter.Well, my sister-in-law and her family happened to come down to visit us this weekend. Last night (Friday evening), she happened to be checking her Facebook page. She read out loud that at one of his regular checkups at Mayo Clinic earlier this week, some spots had been found on the young boy’s lungs, so he will be having surgery at Mayo this coming week. We heard this and immediately agreed that we had found our Pay it Forward recipient!I' just written a card to the sweet boy’s family, and will be including the $100 Visa gift card, along with our promise of prayers. I' suggested that they can use the funds to help with traveling expenses between home and Rochester, but trust that they will use it as they see fit. (My sister-in-law also shared that the family is expecting their fourth child this month!) She will deliver this card to the family tomorrow, before they leave for Mayo again at the start of the week.Thanks again for allowing us to be involved in this opportunity!Hi Joel,We received the gift card yesterday. Today my wife is giving it to a family that adopted 7 children (6 from the same mother - all are "drug" babies with emotional, mental and physical issues). They have so many needs and will be amazed and appreciative of this blessing. Thank you.Hi Joel,Count us in! I mentioned your Pay It Forward plan to our pastor today….he commends you for your thoughtfulness. So do we. There are several single mothers in our church area who will be considered for our gift card.Thanks for the opportunity to spread joy.Good Morning Joel,Thank you very much for including us in your "Pay It Forward" program. Reading the testimonials, it is clear this has made an impact on many lives. Thank you for sharing your blessing with others, and asking us to be part of it.We have given the gift card to a couple in the Des Moines area. This family has 3 boys, the oldest is in 8th grade. Their youngest was diagnosed with Leukemia about 18 months ago. He is still undergoing treatment, and has had several set backs.Aside from this, the father lost his job a few months ago, and is now in an all commission sales position. The mother works nights, so she can take her son to doctor appts. She covered the health insurance for the family. The hotel she works at, was just sold to a bank; and thus they have lost all health insurance.We have survived the journey they are on, and thought they would be a good choice to give back.Thank you for asking us to share.Dear Joel,We heard of this non-profit just as we received your generous gift. As it was Veteran' Day and we felt we wanted to help an organization that is helping vet' and this one especially.I' going to send you one of our local publications that talks about Mary Ellen' Place and one of the local women they have helped recently.As I talked to the President of Veteran' 1st, she told me that they had 5,000 hours from volunteers last year and that they partner with another non-profit if the women that need help have children. Additionally they have taken a run down “eyesore” building in an area that isn' so great and refurbished it to do good works so it' even a win for the neighborhood.With love and appreciation for your generosity.From the sound of the President' voice, when I told her of your donation, she was very appreciative, having worked in the development department (at times a dept of 1 or 2 of us) at a non-profit I know how tough it can be so I too appreciate your involvement in doing good works. We will be adding our donation to the mailing.One couple decided to share the “Pay It Forward” gift card with a very deserving family. A mother of three young children was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in April and together with Mayo Clinic she is fighting with all her might to beat the disease. A “Glow” walk was organized to offer support and financial help to the family. The following was a note the donor received:“I can' thank all of you enough for your donations of food, time, gift cards, and donations for Monica and her family. There were 500+ people who walked tonight in the Glow Walk which was a sight to behold! Kids and adults with glow sticks walking a mile through the Polk City streets having fun and supporting the cause. The chili dinner was a hit! So many compliments on the delicious chili and incredible desserts. You all Rock!In the end there has been over $17,000 raised so far. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”Dear Joel,Thank you for letting us take part in your “pay it forward" gift card. We know of a struggling single mother of two young boys. She had been adopted and there is no family left except her two young boys, trying to do her best with work and being a mom sometimes gets the best of her. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet so she is overwhelmed and truly thankful for the funds as well as gifts and food. We also would like to make their Thanksgiving a true blessing so we are taking food over to their house. Our son and daughter and young grandchildren also contributed their own money. They are gathering everything and will make sure this family receives these gifts before the holidays. We certainly would like to teach our grandchildren how important it is to pay it forward.Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this and making our holidays a true gift.Dear Joel,We decided to Pay it Forward to a single mom who has two children, one of which is severely autistic. She is working and going to school. I was informed that she is struggling to pay her electric bills so she is most appreciative of your gift.This little card has made me realize how lucky we are to have met you and to have you as our Financial Planner. We felt such a responsibility to find the most suitable person for the Pay it Forward gift card because it was not our money and we wanted to use it in the best possible way. Which made me reflect what it is you do everyday. What a huge responsibility!Thank you for your generosity in the Pay it Forward program and thank you for taking such good care of us financially.Dear Joel,After receiving your Pay It Forward gift card in the mail, we both prayed about this wonderful gift we had been given. We gave the gift card tonight to a single mom who is raising a 3 year old son with Down’s Syndrome. I have been told that his biological father has never seen him. (That just broke my heart.) I work with special needs preschoolers in West Des Moines and Clive and I only know this mother from several brief meetings and observing her in the hall. But she has impressed me with her joyful attitude toward her son. He is deeply loved. This mother is optimistic, loving and always smiling. She is never frustrated with his behavior although he often needs redirection and prompting.She has been living with her sister and her 5 children and they are trying to get a place of their own. She works as a waitress when she can arrange child care. When I gave her the gift card, she started to cry and said that it would go toward her son’s Christmas and that it was deeply appreciated. Thanks for including us. I think this is the true meaning of the holidays.Hi Joel.Last evening I handed out your PIF gift card to a family in need. The gift went to a man who many years ago was in the Air Force. He is married and they have 2 girls ages 13 & 17. We learned of this family from friends of ours and my wife and I went to meet with them last night.Their story is unique to say the least.The oldest girl is a senior in H.S. with a 4.0 gpa on a 4 point scale (and she recently scored a 30 on the ACT college exam - an excellent score). The family is relying on her getting a full ride scholarship otherwise she will not go to college.He is (was) a prison guard at a Federal prison - for 27 years - here in AZ. His wife has always been a stay at home Mom raising their 2 girls. They are a traditional devout Christian family with conservative values, attending church every Sunday and saying prayers before every meal. About a year ago he was attacked by an inmate at the prison and he had to defend himself. With his training and excellent physical condition he was able to successfully defend himself. The latter part of the fight was caught on tape but, not the initial attack by the inmate. The inmate filed criminal charges saying he attacked him - which one would think is extremely unlikely considering his 27 years there without any incidents.Anyway, he was prosecuted and suspended from his job without pay. The family eventually ran out of money so in order to survive and put food on the table he submitted his retirement notice in order to get his pension (which he described as being "so little"). Their friends and family helped them with what they could afford.The trial was set for about a month ago and the day before trial, the prosecutor reduced all charges to one minor misdemeanor charge and they entered into a plea deal. It did not include getting his job back. He has been looking for another job but no one will hire him because of this case. His attorney is set to meet with the judge next month to try to convince him to expunge the misdemeanor charge, and if he does, he should be able to find a job.But they are flat broke and with Christmas coming up there would be nothing under the tree for the girls. I presented them with your "pay it forward" Visa card. I told them it was not from us but that someone had asked us to find someone to pay it forward to. They asked us to tell you thank you very much and God bless you.Thanks Joel for allowing us this opportunity to be the bearer of good news to a family in need.Joel,We appreciate the role you are allowing us to play with your "Pay It Forward" Program. For several years the Ames Firefighter' have sponsored the "Shop With A Firefighter" program. This program was organized by our local firefighter' union. During the first week of December the firefighter', along with sponsorship from our local Walmart, initiate the program. Many low-income families are invited to the event, and children are escorted through the Walmart by our local firefighters and volunteers. The children usually pick gifts to give their siblings and parents. It serves multiple families in our community and has been a successful undertaking for many years. The children' eyes light up when they are picking out the gifts, and it makes the Holidays that much richer for everyone.Dear Joel,We plan on going to the Extended Hands Food Bank in Fountain Hills on Saturday morning to give them your “Pay It Forward” gift card and let them decide who should receive it. We will keep you posted on this.Joel – I wanted to get back to you. We have sent the gift card to St Mary’s so they have it before Christmas and can deliver it to a family in need. St. Mary’s provides meals for those who are hungry.Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your pay it forward project – it’s a wonderful way to share your blessings with others and to do it in a way that is more personal for your clients. We hope to be able to do some volunteer work at a later date.Thanks and have a wonderful Christmas!Joel, thanks for including us in your Pay it Forward program. It’s a great opportunity to give back to others in need.My Pay it Forward card was anonymously mailed to a 47 year old single woman I met at the dog park. She had spinal surgery in May. During her medical leave she was a victim of job cuts at her local small town hospital. She lost her position as a hospice counselor and her medical insurance. Her spinal surgery failed and has to be re-done to avoid chronic pain. Now, they have recently found a tumor on her hip. She is unemployed and uninsured for the first time in her life. This kind gesture will help her make ends meet but more importantly that people care about her. Thanks.Joel, We' giving it to our landscaper as he has a large family and works very hard trying to make ends meet. He' very deserving and we hope it makes a little difference for him during the holiday season.Dear Joel,We received the gift card a couple of days ago and struggled with whom to give it. We wanted to give it to someone who really needed it and we did not want to go through an organization. While working out this morning, my wife remembered a person we met while we were canvassing for the election. We had knocked on over 300 doors and yet this one young woman stood out. She lived in a small apartment with two young children and worked at McDonald'. We were not even sure what her name was but we remembered where she lived.When she came to the door with her 4-year-old daughter, she immediately remembered us from the campaign. When we told her we were given a gift and were asked to pay it forward, told her the amount and handed her the gift card, she started to cry. She told us she had not been there this morning (when we first stopped by) because she had to work an extra shift because she was really short on money. By this point we were also tearing up. She hugged us and said she didn' even have words to thank us. We told her she already had!Joel, we have seen many businesses celebrate their success and fortune but this was truly the best one ever. Thanks again for including us in such a meaningful way.Dear Joel,We wanted to let you know that we "paid forward" the Visa gift card to a local agency called Northeast Iowa Community Action. This is Waverly' food bank, but they also distribute funds for heating homes and other basic needs for qualifying people. They presented the card to a single dad who has custody of his young son. He was overwhelmed and truly thankful for the funds. The staff at the agency said they were in tears (as was he) at his excited reaction. The dad said that there wasn' going to be any Christmas at his house until he received this gift card. The staff at the agency said that he is a hard-working man, but just having a hard time making ends meet.Thank you very much for helping to make our Christmas a happy one. It was a very thoughtful idea and we are grateful for the opportunity to help a local person.Dear Joel,We just passed the $100 gift on this past weekend. My mother was telling us about people she knew that were struggling this year and one of them was a young woman who is a single mother of two boys who was having financial difficulties. She works at WalMart but still has a hard time making ends meet. Recently, she has had to have some car repairs done and was looking at a pretty sparse Christmas. Hopefully, this gift will make the season a bit happier for her and her boys.Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this "pay it forward" project.Dear Joel,My wife and I were talking about your card and she told me the story of a family in her parish that has no money and is trying to put their kids through Catholic schools. The man is one of the Lost Boys from Nigeria, now living in the U.S., with a wife and four kids under the age of seven. He works as a janitor and the family lives in a shelter. We plan to use the $100 to buy gifts for the kids for Christmas. Quite a sad story, but this will really help them.Dear Joel,We were so touched when we received your letter and gift card in the mail. My daughter works in Human Relations in the Sanford Medical system in Sioux Falls, SD. She had become aware of a local family whose 10-year-old daughter died in November of a respiratory illness – rather suddenly. A couple weeks later, one of her 7-year-old twin boys was diagnosed with leukemia. To say the least, they have been strapped with many medical bills and much emotional turmoil. So I sent this Visa card to my daughter and matched it with our own funds. My three children also contributed their own money. My daughter is gathering everything and will make sure this family receives these gifts before the holiday.There are so many sad things going on in this world for so many people. Because of your generosity, we are hoping that we can make a small difference in their Christmas season.