“No other organization has really focused on older adults during COVID-19 like the Y has—we’re glad we could help make an impact.” —Steven Ranson, President & CEO, HomeEquity Bank, the provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage, Donor, and Strong Start, Great Future Campaign Cabinet Member”

COVID has had a profound impact on many older adults across Canada, including in the greater Toronto area—a fact that Steven Ranson, President & CEO of HomeEquity Bank, and his team at the financial institution have taken to heart. As a bank that provides reverse mortgage solutions, HomeEquity Bank helps older Canadians stay in the homes they love and enjoy retirement. The average age of their clients is 78, so Steven and his team knew they had to act to ensure older adults weren’t isolated, lonely or in need during the COVID-19 lockdowns. That’s why they decided to launch ‘Operation Warm Hug’ at the onset of the pandemic. “Recognizing people were stuck at home, we started reaching out and asking how we could lend our support,” explains Steven. “Older adults are our client base, they’re the people we help daily, so we wanted to understand how they were doing and what their needs were.”

Collective acts of kindness come naturally to HomeEquity’s staff. Volunteering and giving back are a big part of the bank’s culture. “Along with supporting older adults, our staff volunteer in many different ways that are meaningful to the community,” says Steven. “For us, it’s all about connection, about reaching out to people, and letting them know we’re here.”

As a Y donor and volunteer on the Strong Start, Great Future Capital Campaign Cabinet for more than four years, Steven’s first Y story goes back to his childhood. Attending Boy Scout Camp as a teen, Steven and his fellow campers would be tasked with making meals. “You can imagine what the food was like,” he recalls. One day, because they weren’t far from a YMCA Summer Camp, Steven and his friends hiked over and showed up at the kitchen door at lunch. “The staff provided one of the best meals I’ve ever had, which was tremendous,” he laughs.

When the opportunity arose for the HomeEquity team to expand its efforts by partnering with our charity on a new online community for older adults, The Bright Spot, Steven understood the value. HomeEquity’s employees agreed, seeing it as a distinct way to help them continue to lend their support to older adults during COVID-19. By offering everything in a virtual and dynamic format —from exercise classes and small group chats to trivia nights and mindfulness tutorials — The Bright Spot is a place where older adults can shine.

“For us, The Bright Spot has been a really great response to what’s one of the most unique challenges of our lifetime,” explains Steven. “It’s borderless and fosters connection among older adults, helping them overcome boredom, loneliness and isolation,” he adds.  “No other organization has really focused on older adults during COVID-19 like the Y has—we’re glad we’re able to help make an impact.”