Idesta Severin, instructor for the "Elder Care" series of workshops for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation's Wealth-building Tuesdays
Idesta Severin, instructor for the “Elder Care” series of workshops for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Wealth-building Tuesdays

According to former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, the average wage for workers, adjusted for inflation, has not risen for 30 years. Everyone is having a harder time making ends meet. Too many are living paycheck to paycheck, and even more still are finding their debt growing.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is addressing the problem with its “Wealth Building Tuesdays” series, which are free, interactive, weekly workshops aimed at helping residents better understand and control their finances.


Led by financial specialists, attorneys, bankers, filmmakers and family therapists, the Wealth Building Tuesday series this year is focused on “Family Matters,” with the goal of reclaiming finances in a way that it easily will become a discussion at the dinner table.

At a recent Wealth-Building Tuesday workshop series on elder care, led by instructor Idesta Severin, the class participated in a playful round of Identity Theft Jeopardy:

“What are some of the signs to let you know your aging parents might be the victim of Medicare identity theft?” Severin asked the class.

Medicare Identity Theft? This was something I had never considered, and so I, like most of the participants, were stumped.

“Debt collection notices,” Severin answered. “Begin looking through your parents’ mail, and if you notice an unusually large number of debt collection notices from a healthcare agency, that might be a big sign.”

The Elder Care class was designed to teach people how to help manage and guard the finances of their aging parents. And as gravely important as some of the issues were, too often, the class learned, they were not  even considered in the every day management of their aging parents, particularly those with declining mental health.


“[This class] clarified a lot of things for me,” said Yvonne Mestrandrea, a Brownsville resident who is overseeing the care of her mother. “What I learned about regular Medicare, versus HMO Medicare was very helpful, because down the road, there are things that I needed to think about that I wouldn’t have thought about before.”

The class covered a number of other important topics, including deed theft, how to guard against identity theft of the deceased, how to serve as a proxy for your parents when obtaining critical documents, putting assets into a trust, and several other considerations, in the event of an illness or sudden death.


The new series of Wealth Building Tuesday workshops started November 3, and are focused on “Couples,” as financial stress takes a heavy toll on relationships. Participants practice how to have a healthy dialogue with their partner around money, create a realistic family budget, address unresolved debt, and put in place the steps required to reach mutual financial goals.


Future Couples Finances workshop include:

  • The Psychology of Money and Goal Setting 11/10/15.
  • Creating your Personal Spending Plan 11/17/15.
  • Financial Products: How to save, invest and build credit together 11/24/15

December workshops topics on “Parenting and Finances” include:

  • Costs of starting a family, 12/01/15
  • Low-cost ways to enjoy time with your children, 12/08/15
  • Instilling good financial habits through banking, 12/15/15
  • Giving the gift of education, 12/22/15

To register for the Wealth Building Tuesday workshops, call 718-636-6994 or email [email protected].

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