Showcase Salutes Wells Fargo Advisors


MoneyMany of us know we should save for retirement, but how many of us understand how to do that? Or, what about getting our estates in order? Where should we start?

This is where financial advisers can help. They are the experts on investing, estates, insurance, and all things concerning managing your money. Making the most of what you have and making it last are their primary goals. Many people find planning for the future overwhelming, and having someone to guide you in the right direction is invaluable. Of course, you must make sure that you pick the right adviser, one who understands your needs and can secure the future you’re looking to have.

Kim Black, who works for Wells Fargo in Warren, NJ, is one of these experts. She is a financial planner who truly cares about her clients and realizes that every person has different ideas about how they want to live now and in the future. She will listen to your needs and desires and come up with a financial strategy that works for your life.

Kim was originally an executive in the fashion industry, and when her father passed away she helped her mother settle his estate. While working with a financial planner, she discovered that she had not only a knack for it, but also a real desire to help other people the way she was being helped. Realizing how difficult it was to have to focus on truly complex financial matters, while at the same time grieving, made her passionate about assisting others going through the same situation. Although she loves all aspects of her job, estate planning is one of her favorites.

Coming from an industry where people don’t work regular “banking” hours, she understands that clients may need to contact her outside of the usual 9:00 to 5:00 workday. She is often on the phone late into the evenings and respects her customers’ time constraints. Kim is also proud to be one of the few female financial planners in the country.

Wells Fargo, founded in March of 1852, has a long history in the financial sector, and besides financial planning, they also offer checking and savings accounts, mortgages, car loans, home equity lines of credit, and everything a person or business would need for all their financial needs. One of the reasons Kim decided to work for Wells Fargo was because of their philanthropy. They give back to the communities they are in and support national causes as well. They also believe in encouraging their employees to volunteer and have formed groups to foster this sense of giving. These groups support a variety of causes such as childhood literacy, free income tax assistance to the needy, building houses and more. In a news release on March 9, 2017, Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide, remarked, “We’re grateful to Wells Fargo and its team members for their continued commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Whether you’re in your 20’s and just starting out with a limited income, or older and thinking about retirement, it’s never too early to start planning. With the right person on your side, financial matters do not have to be intimidating.

You can find Kim Black at the Warren, NJ, office located at 160 Mount Bethel Road. She can also be reached by telephone at 908-542-2934 and by email at



Teaching Children History Through Stories That Captivate

Growing up, even though I was a good student, I never felt that I had a solid grasp of history. All those dates and events would merge together in my head and leave me overwhelmed and sometimes bored. However, history is such an important part of our world and understanding it is part of being an educated thinker.
This is where historical fiction can come in handy as a learning tool for children. Presenting factual information while embedding it in a fascinating story with relatable characters can make it real and memorable. Having a character that a child can feel invested in will make the lesson have more of an impact than simply learning about when something happened and why. For example, we all know about the horrors of September 11, but experiencing it through the words of a child who has lost his parent in this atrocity can make it more meaningful than any mere explanation of what terrorism is all about. As written by Keith Barton, a Professor of History at Indiana University, children “can be especially captivated by stories that give them the chance to imagine taking part in the events of the past, or to explore how people responded to dramatic circumstances such as those involving fear, discrimination, or tragedy.”
Of course, depending on the age and maturity level of the child, books have to be chosen with care. Some topics like the holocaust and slavery are difficult for even adults to digest, so one must know how much information a child can handle and in what form. When researching historical fiction for children, look for books that have won awards such as the Newbery Honor or the Caldecott Award. Also, your local librarian will be able to recommend appropriate books, and there are websites that can help guide you to the right ones as well.
My nephew, who is now 11 and fascinated by the Civil War, World War 2, the American Revolution, and many other past events, starting asking me for historical fiction years ago. Of course, as an avid reader myself, I am overjoyed that he loves to read, but I’m also glad that he is obtaining important information while doing it.
Some teachers also make use of historical fiction in their classrooms. As Tarry Lindquist, a social studies teacher and author from Washington, states, “It puts people back into history. Social studies texts are often devoted to coverage rather than depth. Too often, individuals — no matter how famous or important — are reduced to a few sentences.” During books discussions, teachers can also help separate and point out the “true” history from the fiction.
Of course, history textbooks have their place in schools, and should stand as a foundation for learning facts and figures. However, adding historical fiction to a child’s education can be a wonderful supplement and give the past a deeper meaning.

Written for About Families magazine – March 2018

In the Wilds of Suburbia

I’ve always been a huge animal lover. Growing up, we not only had the usual pets such as dogs and cats, but we also had rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and birds. Not so unconventional, right? But we also had mice, rats, chameleons, quails, and doves. Not all at the same time, of course, but still, enough that we had a pretty interesting menagerie in the house at all times.
My parents’ love of animals was passed on to us kids. My brother, sister, and I have rescued many animals over the years, including dogs and cats of various breeds and ages. And when we couldn’t take them ourselves, there were very few relatives who escaped our pleadings of “please give this poor kitty or doggie a home, please!” Living in a busy city, there were sadly more than a few homeless animals wandering around.
When I was almost 11, we moved to the suburbs, and I thought my days of rescuing needy animals had come to an end. Oh, how wrong I was. We lived right next to a mountain reservation, so let’s just say I had a host of new animals to care for. There were the deer who craved apples, squirrels looking for nuts to bury for the winter, and birds who chirped for their seed.
I now live in a different suburban town, and my backyard borders the woods. Besides still feeding the deer, squirrels and birds, I also have a “pet” chipmunk that comes right up to my back sliding glass door looking for his breakfast, lunch and dinner. He will even eat peanuts right out of my hand. Every once in a while, a fox will end up on our patio to check out what’s on the menu, and we’ve even had a young wild turkey hanging around for a time. My patio also seems to have become a haven for lost animals. There was the turtle who wandered away from the pond down the hill, and a neighbor’s cat that actually lived with us for a while until we found its owner.
This soft spot in my heart for animals has only grown bigger, especially for those in need. One day, walking home from the train station, I saw a bunch of baby squirrels lying on the ground. They were in very bad shape, and for one it was already too late. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I put them in my backpack and carried them home. By the time I got there, another one was already gone. Right away I called a wildlife rehabber, and she walked me through the process of caring for them. Within 24 hours, they went from barely being able to move to trying to escape out of their box. They were so young that their eyes weren’t even open yet. Even though caring for them was time consuming (they had to be fed every 3 to 4 hours), I so enjoyed it. After dropping them off at the wildlife rehab center a few days later, I felt like crying the entire way home. I knew I did the right thing by leaving them with people who had the expertise to care for them until they were ready to be released into the wild, but it was still hard. I did go visit them though.
As I’m sitting here writing this, a big bird party is taking place right outside my window. A large red-headed woodpecker is enjoying the suet, and the blue jays, cardinals, and nuthatches are busy cleaning up the seed falling from the bird feeder. Some squirrels should be by soon to clean up the rest, and we’ll see what else shows up. You never know around here!

Written for The Country Register published across the US and Canada

Click to access CR-Mar-Apr.pdf

Get Lost in a Good Book

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There are times when life can be stressful and we just want to get away from it all. But jobs, families and other responsibilities cannot be left behind. However, there is a quick, easy way to get lost in another world and it’s right at our fingertips. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
What is this escape, you ask? Why, books, of course! On a cold winter’s night, if you want to find yourself on a beach in Nantucket, pick up a book by Elin Hilderbrand. Or, would a murder mystery in front of a roaring fire pique your interest? Then delve into a Mary Higgins Clark novel.
One of my favorite pastimes is wandering the aisles of my local library. Since I’m such an avid reader, I depend on this free institution for much of my reading material, lest I go broke or fall into serious debt. I have always read a lot, but now that I take the train to work, I not only read a book at home every night before bed, I also read a different book on my commute to and from work. Yes, I have two different books going at the same time. Confusing, some may think. For me, not at all. I get so into the characters and plots that I have no problem keeping track of them all, just like people do with various television programs. While many of my friends are excited about a new season of the latest prime time shows, I’m anxiously awaiting my favorite authors’ new books. I would rather watch the story unfold in my mind than on a television screen.
I especially like continuing series, such as Patricia Cornwell’s saga about a medical examiner who helps the FBI and local police solve crimes, or Janet Evanovich’s tales involving a hapless female bounty hunter who tries and oftentimes fails to catch the fugitives she’s after. I have been reading certain series for years and have grown somewhat attached to my favorite characters.
Although fiction is my favorite genre, I am a fan of non-fiction as well. I am especially drawn to books that explore people’s strength and perseverance and show how they overcome many obstacles in their lives, such as The Last Sermon by Randy Pausch, or Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness by Richard M. Cohen. These kinds of true stories broaden my perspective and make the problems in my life seem somewhat trivial.
Whatever your interests are, there are books that will engage your mind and nourish your soul. If your budget is limited, libraries are wonderful resources, as are used book stores and various discounted websites. Or, if you choose to get a little fancier, buy yourself an e-reader and download to your heart’s content.
So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, get yourself a good book, curl up with a steamy mug of hot chocolate, and go on an adventure. When you return, you will feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new day.

Written for The Country Register of the US and Canada

The Memory Box

When I was a little girl, my grandmother kept a big box of pictures in her sewing room. Being the curious child that I was, I loved looking through it and seeing family and friends and how they had changed over the years. However, it was the people I didn’t know and had never met who intrigued me the most.

Fortunately for me, Grandma Helen never minded when I interrupted her sewing (or crocheting, knitting, baking, or cooking – yup, she could do it all) to ask her who those people were. Some of the pictures were really old, and although the details weren’t very clear, I remember loving them the most. I especially liked the ones with the fancy scalloped borders around them. Why did they ever stop doing that? Anyway, my grandmother would sit down with me and patiently explain who everyone was and where and what they were doing. I got to know relatives whom I had never met, like my great grandmother who died when my grandma was only thirteen, along with others I had only heard about. These times we spent together were not only special for me, but I believe for Grandma Helen as well. She got to relive her special memories as she was passing them on to me and my siblings. These photos were a gateway into the past, and reminded us how everyday events such as birthdays, weddings and baptisms helped form our family’s history. I also loved that these pictures were all jumbled together in a big box, rather than arranged neatly and orderly in photo albums. That’s nice too, of course, but for a kid who liked to explore, being able to dig down into the very bottom to find one that I hadn’t seen before made it much more fun.

Today, due to the proliferation of online photo albums, there seem to be fewer and fewer printed pictures to keep in a box or put into an album. Sure, online digital pictures are great. The clarity cannot be beat, plus you can pick and choose which ones to keep. Still, there’s something about those old black and white pictures in your hand that make you feel as if you’re holding pieces of the past.

My mother and uncle now have these pictures, and just recently my mom and I sat in her bedroom going through them. This time my mother got to relive her own special memories with me. Although, when some of them were taken, my mother was not even born yet. But I could see when she looked at her ancestors how special they were to her, even though she never got to meet them all. This, in turn, made them special to me.

Why not make your kids or grandchildren a picture box so they too can hold a tangible part of your family’s history? Be sure to pass on stories about the people and places to make them come alive in their hearts and minds. You could even write a little story on the back of each one. I know I will never forget the times spent looking through that old box of memories.

Published in The Country Register across the United States and Canada