Your Membership and Contributions Make Our Important Work Possible

By Julie Rosenberg

St. George’s Society social worker, Julie Rosenberg  explains how your generous contributions have helped to change the lives of our  beneficiaries.

Can you imagine paying only $290 a month for rent for a  two bedroom apartment? It is hard to believe. Now can you imagine being evicted  from a $290 a month apartment because you simply don’t have enough money to pay  even this incredibly low sum?

Well this was the case for Mr. M, a gentile 71 year old  who ended up in housing court because of rental arrears.

Born in Jamaica, Mr. M came to the US as a young man but  after marrying, health problems prevented him from doing a lot of physical  work—which were most of the jobs available to him as new immigrant without a  lot of education. But because his wife worked, he stayed home and took care of  their children. Unfortunately, after many years, they divorced.  Soon after, his mother became ill and he needed  help in her home. He moved in with his aging mother, resumed his caretaking  role and continued to care for her for almost 20 years, until her death at age  99. And because of this he never worked enough outside the home to qualify for  Social Security.

I first met Mr. M in housing court; his landlord brought  an eviction case against him for non-payment of his rent.  With Mr. M, the City would only give him $117  a month in cash along with food stamps, clearly not enough to pay even this  remarkably low rent.  So he began to fall  behind.  First he had the gas turned off  to save on household expenses. When I met him he was about to lose his electric  service as well.

This is when St. George’s came on board.  St. George’s took him on as a beneficiary,  and temporarily paid the $290 monthly rent.   Without this help, it was hopeless—he would lose the apartment and need  to enter the homeless shelter system.  But  because of St. George’s involvement, the threat of eviction was removed and  other services could then be put in place. The City agreed to pay the rental  arrears as Mr. M had a future ability to pay rent with St. George’s help and  after the crisis was averted, we were able to explore other benefits in which  Mr. M was entitled.  Turns out, he was  entitled to collect Social Security based on his former wife’s work history.

By George! How the World Celebrated a Prince

By Chrissie Bautista

With news of The Duchess of Cambridge going into labour, everyone at St. George’s Society was on tenterhooks, waiting for any sign of when the royal baby might arrive.

Anna our Director of Operations & Communications was on BBC and Sky waiting for live news coverage, I was on social media sites looking for new updates and John our Executive Director was listening for announcements on the radio. It’s not every day someone gives birth to a Prince (or future King) and we were definitely not going to miss a second of it!

After waiting anxiously, it was announced that Kate gave birth to a healthy 8 pound, 6 –ounce baby boy on Monday, July 22nd at 4:24pm. Not only did the Brits celebrate, but the world celebrated by lighting landmarks in blue to provide this incredible sight:

The Peace Tower, Canada

Niagara Falls, Canada

CN Tower, Canada

Christchurch Airport, New Zealand

Golden Jubilee Bridge & London Eye, London

Tower Bridge, London

 

BT Tower, London

Meanwhile in New York City…

Times Square

Magnolia Bakery

Cock & Bull

Having over 850 British expat and anglophile members, it’s only fitting we celebrate the birth of the royal baby in true British style with a GEORGE head wetting!

Please join us on Thursday, August 1st, 6pm onwards upstairs at The Churchill for the GEORGE head wetting to celebrate the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis. Click here for more information.

We would love to hear how you celebrated/will be celebrating the birth of the royal baby – tweet @NYCGEORGE or Facebook us!

A Day in the Life of Sharon Carpenter

by Sharon Carpenter

Ladies and gents, allow me to reintroduce myself – my name’s Sharon Carpenter and I’m honoured to be your host once again for one of the year’s most prestigious (and fun) Brit events held on American soil, the GEORGE British Bash!!

As an English broadcast journalist and TV personality based here in the States, it always feels special to connect with my fellow expats and, if you attended the Bash last year, you already know GEORGE is guaranteed to bring out the best of Britain here in New York. While it’s all for a great cause we certainly put the ‘fun’ in fundraising so get ready for an epic night.

Now the Bash is fast approaching so to give you an idea of the type of day June 27th is shaping up to be for me as host, check out my schedule below.

7am – wake-up…hit snooze…hit snooze again.

7:10am – Time for my smartphone fix. It’s been 6 whole hours since I’ve felt the smooth glass of my iPhone screen under my fingers! Twitter first to get all the latest headlines in bite size doses, then Instagram (OK, I’m a bit of a social media addict), then it’s time to get started on those work emails and any updates on tonight’s Bash.

8am – I just began working with a personal trainer and he’s kicking my butt/bum. Nothing like an hour long torture session of dumbbell squats and sprinting on the stair-master to get your day started right (and make sure tonight’s cocktail dress looks killer!)

9:30am – Working in-front of the camera, it’s important for me to look the part so after my workout I’m off to see my glam-squad for a quick transformation from drowned gym rat into glamor puss. One fresh blowout and bronzed face later and I feel and look like a new woman!

10:30am – Whether I’m taping my reality show for VH1, hosting one of the network’s live celebrity web chats, playing the guitar with Wyclef Jean on Centric TV, interviewing Hollywood stars like Kerry Washington for Russell Simmons’ Global Grind, or being interviewed myself – my afternoon is guaranteed to be an eventful one. Several meetings later and it’s more than time to get ready for the night’s festivities.

5pm – Seeing as I like to live on the edge, while I should be selecting my Bash outfit as wespeak, I’ll likely make a final decision just hours before I hit the stage! So many things to consider including:

1) The comfortability/simplicity factor (rated 1 – 10 on least to most likely to result in humiliating wardrobe malfunction)

2) The colour options (should I blend in with the Union Jack…or not?)

3) Footgear (3 inch heels = shorty, 4 inch heels = post-gala foot rub, 5 inch heels = shoeicide)

6pm – Panic attack! Arrgghh, the dog just ate my speech! Why did I put on my red lipstick BEFORE my white dress?? Oops, just stubbed my toe…guess it’ll have to be a flip flop kinda night.

6:15pm – Breathe, relax and drive to the venue blasting some of my favourite Brit hits to get me geared up – think The Wanted “Glad You Came”, Coldplay “Paradise” or Emeli Sande “Next To Me”.

7pm – Mix and mingle with the best of Britain in NY (while avoiding getting drunk…yet) at the cocktail reception.

8pm – It’s show time!!

Interview with Brit Singer Alice Russell

By Fiona Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow me to introduce myself.

Brit Expat living in NY for 17 years now and immersed in the Entertainment Biz. I’m also one of the Ambassador’s for GEORGE, so hopefully you’ll see my writing regularly.

I’m very excited to introduce to you an incredibly talented British singer/songwriter – Alice Russell. She’s been making vintage soul, pop and funk records for many years. I’ve seen her perform several times in the U.S and in England and her live performances are nothing short of incredible and chilling.

I caught up with her on the last date on the tour- NYC. Le Poisson Rouge. The place was packed despite it being a Sunday and Mother’s Day.

What a way to end her U.S ‘To Dust’ tour. Her latest effort available on Tru Thoughts. Le Poisson Rouge- last stop on the tour.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Alice Russell…

Fiona: What’s the inspiration behind the lead off single “Heart Breaker”– How did you hook up with Steve Glashier for the video and how did that treatment come to life?

Alice: I have to give Steve the credit for the idea, I just told him I didn’t want a narrative love lost video for this song as I feel that has been done to death! We sat and had a chat about it and he came up with this and asked me to ask Harry, Harry agreed and was up for it so then it was just down to sorting a day where we could pull in favours, find a hotel room and shoot!

Fiona: Was that your idea/conceptually or his?

Alice: Twas Steve’s!

Fiona: To Dust latest project. What’s the theme for this and how did you come up with the name?

Alice: The album title To Dust comes from one of the first songs we (TM Juke and I) came up with for this album and for me it encapsulates the whole feel of the time we spent making it. There were a lot of things going on, stressful situations ­ but one of the many problems was put in to perspective when a friend decided to disappear from our lives, it was like a cold slap in the face of what is really important in this short life, and a life we still don’t know what we are really here for but we roll along and find meaning and joy. It was the idea that nothing is bigger and makes you feel more alive than when faced with death, your own mortality or losing someone close that you will never get to see or share time with again, to dust, all goes back to dust.

Fiona: What’s your fave song off the album?

Alice: It changes! I love singing ‘For A While’ live, and at the moment singing ‘To Dust’ out live is a great release for me.

Fiona: This is your first time touring in America in how long?

Alice: Well I came to LA in December of 2012 to do a soul special with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson,Leon Ware, See Jorge, Coco from Quadron, Shuggie Otis – which was an amazing night! So, I have been popping back and also toured a little with Quantic and our project early spring of last year but I agree it has been far too long a break between touring my own show! But, I am back now and I intend on coming back as much as I can!

(Fiona) What’s taken you so long to get back here. I last saw you doing a few showcases at SXSW, Austin– the crowd went mad for you and you were adored by the media…You still are.

Fiona: What’s the reception been like so far in the U.S for the new project?

Alice: This last visit has been overwhelming ­ you never know who, if anyone will turn up… and they came! The crowds were ace, really vocal and filled my heart right up! It’s been an amazing visit. I give my all when performing as you have to ­ you can’t hold back ­ and I feel the crowd gets this and gives it right back !

Fiona: Was that your first time on Jimmy Kimmel? What other TV are you doing here?

Alice: Yes it was! We were Kimmel virgins and this is the only TV we did on this visit ­ but I have plans to try to come and do some more if they will have me!

Fiona: I’m sure you love NY like all us Brits. Do you have any tips or fave haunts to share with our audience?

Alice: Wow, so many! There are sooo many good places to eat and drink (we all went out for pickle backs the other night, and I am afraid some of the best places we have ended up in I haven’t remembered soo well.) Black Bettys in Brooklyn was many a good night of drinks and music but I heard it has sadly closed down 🙁

(Fiona) Oh– Black Betty’s was one of my haunts too

On the health is wealth side , I am a bit of a spa fiend as steams rooms really help on the road with a tired voice and chops! Getting a good pummelling when you have been late nights, early morns and trains planes and automobiles is a very good thing to try to get into so I visited the great Jones spa and I loved it! They have a juice bar steam room and I got a good pummelling massage…mmm..so yin and yang, one night re tox the next de tox and so it goes on.

Fiona: What about restaurants? Do you like Spicy food?

Alice: I adore spicy food!

Fiona: Fave Spice?

Alice: One of my fav spices isn’t so spicy on its own ­ I love cardamon! Chilies I don’t count as a spice but just hot fire chili sauce I adore. We recently did a show in La Reunion Island, the next island from Madagascar and the chili sauce there blew your head off but still

retained amazing flavor! Now thats what I’m talking about..yum!

Fiona: What’s been your saviour mobile app while you’re on the road?

Alice: Loving Vine and I have only just been introduced to it by the band we play with here in the states, ‘The Park’, they are all over it and now so am I!

Fiona: Any juicy stuff you can share?

Alica: Best to keep quiet on this….

Fiona: Not sure your current relationship status– seeing anyone, married?

Alice: Yes I am with someone.

Fiona: Fave place outside of NY to tour/visit in U.S?

Alice: I adore San fran , feels like a home from home.

Fiona: What about overseas?

Alice: Japan is amazing to visit.

Fiona: Who are some artists in the U.K that are on the rise you’re feeling?

Alice: Check out ‘Us Baby Bear Bones’

Fiona: I’m sure you’re doing a ton of festivals this Summer. Is there one you’re super excited to Rock and why?

Alica: Well we have Glasto coming up and I am hatching great plans for that show ­ both musically and outfit-wise and who knows, I may get my bays all doing some dance routine…

Fiona: Lastly, as a Woman in the entertainment world, any specific challenges or barriers you’ve had to knock down, and encouraging words for young girls starting out?

Alice: Just stay true to yourself and you can’t go wrong. Do not let anyone bully you and surround yourself with people you trust and that help you keep your feet on the ground.

Thanks Alice- love the answers and insight. Learned a great deal more about you!

So for everyone who hasn’t seen the official video for Heart Breaker- here

it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtcQHtgfXKg

I encourage you all to go buy the album. It’s worth every penny!

‘To Dust’ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/to-dust/id598885005

Website: http://www.alicerussell.com

On Twitter at @alicemrussell

Who Does St. George Help?

by Julie Rosenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Rosenberg is a social worker at St George’s Society and here she talks about the impact our charity has on the lives of our beneficiaries.

“Working as a social worker helping seniors facing eviction in housing court, I have seen firsthand how St. George’s has prevented many of my clients from losing their homes and I cannot stress the indelible effect they have had on the lives of my clients over the years.

Take Mr. P for example.

Mr. P is an 84 year old Jamaican gentleman who came to this country and worked as a tailor until he could no longer get enough jobs to pay his rent in his apartment of over 30 years. He had nowhere else to go and no family to help. Compounding his problems was that he had severe hearing loss– he could barely communicate in person and the telephone was virtually impossible.

He had a nominal amount of social security– less than he was even entitled—but he didn’t know that, nor did he know how he could fix the problem. The reason for this crisis was simple: his rent exceeded his income and he faced a huge amount of rental arrears. He was in the process of losing his home until St George’s Society stepped in. With the promise of a monthly payment directly to Mr. P’s landlord, so many opportunities opened up for Mr. P.

 

The collaboration between St. George’s and a community program meant he was now able to afford the rent in his home of over 30 years. We were able to get a grant from the city to pay off all of his arrears, helped to pay for new furniture and cleaning services for his apartment and perhaps the biggest success after securing his home, was that we were able to assist him in getting his first hearing aid.

 

Even then, when the services available to seniors fell short, in this case that Mr. P’s health insurance would only cover one hearing aid despite desperately needing two, St. George’s stepped up and paid for the second hearing aid. So now, for the first time, Mr. P can hear, is safe in his apartment, has new furniture and new clothing, and now attends a daily day program with people who watch out for his everyday needs. He is secure, reports being overwhelmed by the kindness and help he has received. Kindness and caring he swears he has never seen in his 84 years. Without St. George’s, he knows he would most definitely have lost his home… and his dignity.

I have had the repeated fortune to get my clients a stipend from St. George’s — something that didn’t just make a small difference in their lives, for many, I believe it truly saved their lives.”

If you would like to make a difference today and donate towards the St. George’s Society Beneficiary Program please click here.

The Special Relationship

by Jon Langford

It is often said that England and America are two countries divided by a common language, but for expats residing in the U.S., cultural nuances are a daily part of life. I remember the first time I heard a child’s dummy referred to as a pacifier, I expected some sort of medieval torture device to be rolled into the living room.

Now, I’m with the Americans on a lot of things (I think taking the “U” out of color was an inspired move) but some things will forever seem foreign to us Brits. Here is my list of uniquely American peculiarisms:

1. Putting Sugar on Stuff:

Ordering something advertised as an “English breakfast” can be as perilous as a pilgrim’s pilgrimage from Plymouth. It’s no secret that our American friends have a sweet tooth, but do we really need sugar in baked beans? Is brown sugar necessary on bacon? Of course, the irony is the Brits are the ones with the bad teeth.

2. Crowd Participation in Movie Theaters:

Going to the cinema in the land of the free is about as close as you can get to the British pantomime experience. You can boo the baddies, cheer the goodies, and even clap at the end if you want. The only downside is there are no free sweets.

3. Ending Sentences with “Or no?”

“Are we going swing dancing tonight… or no?”

“Is it still the 1920’s… or no?”

“Is the time machine ready yet… or no?”

4. Beginning Sentences with “P.S.”

Aside from the fact it’s more annoying than someone stopping when they get to the top of the subway stairs, it doesn’t make sense to say. P.S. comes from the Latin “post scriptum” meaning “written after.”

5. Jaywalking:

This is the stuff of urban legend. I’ve never been ticketed or met anyone who has and I enjoy a good jaywalk several times a day, every day of the week. Sometimes I do it in front of a police car, just for the hell of it.

6. The Silent ‘H’ on “Herb.”

As far as I’m concerned, “vitamins” and “tomatoes” are fair game. All the letters are being acknowledged, they’re just being pronounced differently. But if you’re going to pronounce it “erb” then why isn’t the same logic being applied to every word beginning “Her…?”

“‘Er ‘erd of ‘ermits and ‘errings had ‘ereditary ‘erpes,” said the cheeky American cockney when asked to explain why his sister’s bizarre collection of animals had died.

7. The “Have a Nice Day” Send-Off:

I’m with the Americans on this. I’d rather be on the receiving end of an insincere “Have a nice day!” than the miserable grumble favored by most shopkeepers in the U.K.

8. Periods:

Picture the scene: A great American novelist is dictating copy to his English intern, “The woman was suffering. Pain again!” he says, dramatically. But the American usage of “period” instead of “full-stop” sabotaged the sentence. What the intern wrote was, “The woman was suffering period pain again!”

9. Federal Holidays:

“What are we celebrating this time? Labor day? What on earth is that? Actually, I don’t care. Can I have another beer?” There seems to be a federal holiday every month and expats are never shy in joining in the festivities. We may stubbornly refuse to refer to football as soccer, but we’re more than willing to have a drink and whoop over the fireworks on July 4, even though we’re toasting the demise of the British Empire.

10. Confusion Over the Following Terms: British, English, Scottish, Welsh, and ‘From the U.K’.

“So, the U.K. is in London?” an American from Ohio once asked me. I suppose it’s like cricket, if you didn’t grow up with it, it can be rather confusing.

Jon Langford is the bass player for British rock band The Chevin, currently based in NYC.The band has toured Europe supporting Franz Ferdinand, White Lies, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Pigeon Detectives. They made their US television debut performing their single “Champion” on the Late Show with David Letterman on 29 August 2012.

@Jon_LangfordNYC

deVere USA Inc. Invites St. George’s Society Members to Ask Questions Relating to All Aspects of their Financial Planning

deVere USA Inc. invites St. George’s Society members to ask questions relating to all aspects of their Financial Planning

deVere USA Inc. recently co-hosted a seminar with the British Consulate-General and we were delighted that many St. George’s Society members were able to attend. At the end of the session we were inundated with questions and queries at varying levels of complexity. As a result we would like to invite all members to ask any pertinent questions on any aspect of Financial Planning that is relevant to their situation. Our commitment is to provide prompt and comprehensive answers.

The areas that you wish to ask questions on may include the following:

-Financial Planning
-Investment Advisory
-Asset Allocation Models
-Budgeting
-Corporate Benefits
-UK & Foreign Pensions
-401k
-IRA
-College / University Funding
-General Saving – Best Routes
-Existing Legacy Plans
-Estate Planning – UK IHT, US Estate Taxes
-Questions regarding existing arrangements
-Estate and Succession Planning

Example questions:

“I have recently received a letter from my UK pension scheme to advise that the Trustees are reviewing my future pension benefits. Surely my final salary pension is guaranteed so how can they change this when I am so close to retirement?”

Unfortunately, final salary pension schemes are not guaranteed and do rely on the scheme remaining solvent when you retire and for the duration of your retirement. With unprecedented levels of debt within the UK we are seeing a growing number of public and private sector pension schemes looking to change the benefits their members will receive. One common method is to change the age at which the member can retire from say age 65 to age 67. The most common change we have encountered and by far the most effective is to change the indexation on pensions from RPI (Retail Price Index) to CPI (Consumer Price Index), currently CPI is 1% less than RPI and when compounded over the lifetime of your pension payments can have a significant impact on your pension payments. Whilst for the pension administrator it helps reduce their pension liabilities, it only reduces the entitlement of the pension members themselves.

 

“I have been in the US for over 15 years and during my time worked for four separate companies, at the moment I have 3 separate frozen 401k pension arrangements, I am not actively managing the schemes nor is my advisor, is there a way I can consolidate the three into one and better affect the returns?”

 

Yes a very easy process is to roll all of your frozen 401k assets into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account), there is no tax payable on the roll and you have the ease to administer only one scheme not three, generally with cheaper fees and wider investment flexibility. Having regular reviews of portfolio performance quarterly alongside your advisor, generally will increase returns.

“I am the CEO of a small sized company in the US, currently we operate a 401k scheme with 400 members, as pension trustee I have a fiduciary duty to ensure the members get the best deal. I feel the current expense ratios on our scheme are high and investment options out dated but do not really know what other options exist and have not got a great amount of time to investigate, can you provide assistance with this?”

deVere USA has an in-house corporate benefits team who specialize in this area with particular reference to small – medium sized enterprises. Generally speaking if you have operated your 401k scheme for a number of years your expense ratios are higher, typically around 3-4% and there are much more cost effective solutions available where we can reduce this to around 1% by using ETF driven models for example. The process of reviewing and providing a solution is not arduous and will not expend a lot of time on your part.

“I left the UK over 20 years ago and been tax resident in the USA ever since, I still have property in the UK but nothing else, given I have been outside the UK for so long and non-resident then I assume I do not need to worry about UK Inheritance Tax (IHT), is this true?”

No unfortunately not, if you are a UK national you automatically obtain the domicile of your father at birth so assuming he was a UK national then you are also considered UK domicile and subject to UK Inheritance Tax on your worldwide assets. Being resident in the US does not change this. Therefore typically each spouse assuming both UK nationals have a 325, 000 nil rate band, total inter-spousal 650,000 gbp. Above which you are subject to IHT at 40%.

It is very easy to change your tax residence, almost impossible to change your domicile and is a common misconception amongst UK expats in particular.

If you have any questions on any aspect of Financial Planning please contact:

Benjamin Alderson
Country Manager
deVere (USA) Inc.
Phone: (direct) 646-664-0693
E-mail: benjamin.alderson@devere-group.com

Adrian E. Flambard CTA, TEP
Senior Investment Advisor
deVere Group (USA) Inc.
Phone: (direct) 646-664-0681
E-mail: adrian.flambard@devere-group.com
Website: www.devere-group.com