Customer Feedback Is Our North Star

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – “The customer always comes first” should be every company’s mantra. However, a lot of companies say it, but don’t act on it. So, how do we make sure we’re living up to that mindset?
The answer is simple — just ask.
On any given night, half of the guests in our hotels are members of the Hilton Honors loyalty program and their feedback is what helps us make our program so esteemed.

Post-Hurricane Matthew: What to Do to Prepare Your Home

Waves break over the church and the castle in Camogli, Italy

Risk mitigation.

It’s a term that typically comes up after every major storm —Hurricane Matthew being the latest to wreak havoc — as homeowners are warned that many houses are simply no match for high winds, and that prudence dictates that they act to help protect themselves and their property from future tempests.

If you think those warnings are needlessly alarmist, so too did all those New Yorkers who got pummeled by Hurricane Sandy.

So what should homeowners do, proactively, to increase their odds of beating Mother Nature?

Read on.

Tips for Seniors Who Suffer From Muscle Aches and Pains

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – Knees start to hurt. Hips start to ache. Maybe your lower back too. And you finally understand what "tennis elbow" means. Welcome to getting older.For years, your bones, muscles, and joints have held up with nothing more than a minor twinge here or a bruise there. Now, however, it takes longer to get out of bed and daily aches and pains seem to be the norm.While it may sound counterproductive, studies have shown that engaging in a moderate strength training program not only helps in toning up, but strengthening muscles that can ache for days. This is especially true as you get older.Experts say that while some pain is expected as you age, it is also the body’s way of telling you something. The following tips can help tired, sore muscles and joints feel better:* Soothe with heat. A warm shower or bath, hot water bottle, or warm cloth can help relax tired muscles and ease muscle spams.* Invite in the cold — therapy, that is. Ice packs can soothe pain, especially if a joint is inflamed or swelling (think joints ankles, elbows, shoulders). Try a cool cloth, cold pack, cold compress wrap, or ice massage. Typically the time is 15-20 minutes on, and the same amount of time off the joint or muscle.* Practice deep breathing. The benefits of using the breath to soothe yourself cannot be underscored enough. Slow, quiet breathing helps relax the body and mind and ease the pain. Aim for about six long, deep breaths a minute.* Get a massage. A foot, back, or hand rub can also alleviate pain. Warm oil or lotion may also help you relax. One note: massage in one area for 10 seconds first to see if it feels good.* Invest in a stairlift. If you have stairs in your home, and there are days that you just can’t seem to make it up due to tired, aching muscles, a stairlift, such as those from Orlando-based Acorn Stairlifts, can help. Unlike chair lifts of old, new models are powered by two small 12-volt batteries under the seat or by regular house current. The chair and built-in footrest typically fold up when not in use. Available for straight or curved stairs, these lifts can be a godsend if you’re recovering from an injury. The lifts include safety belts, lockable swivel seats, and light touch controls for easy operation.For more information, please visit www.acornstairlifts.com

What a Business Stands for Can Mean as Much as What It Does

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – If you’ve ever seen the 1980s movie “Wall Street,” you probably recall Gordon Gekko saying that “greed is good.”
He may have been a bit shortsighted. Times are changing and so are people’s attitudes about corporate America. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the insurance company Aflac suggests Gekko’s days are numbered.
Survey Revelations
Here are some of the things the study found:
* 79 percent of consumers believe companies that stay true to their ethics and values outperform others in their field.
* When it comes to millennials, who are 80 million strong with a $200 billion annual purchasing power, 92 percent are more likely to patronize an ethical company.
* 81 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from corporations that are active in philanthropic efforts year-round as opposed to only in times of need.
* 60 percent of investors would sacrifice profit for ethical standards when making long-term investment decisions.
Companies Should Consider
So what is an effective corporate philosophy when it comes to social responsibility? In a day of instant access to information, consumers — many of whom have been influenced by such much-publicized issues as Enron, bank scandals, high unemployment and recession — have become much more observant of the actions of corporations, and they’re skeptical.
To stay successful, companies are going to have to shift their priorities. Of course, profit is essential to stay in business, but there are presently impediments to profits that didn’t even exist 25 years ago. For example, the study shows millennials have vastly different and stronger demands for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropy than do those who are over the age of 35. Interestingly, parents share millennials’ desire to do business with companies that give back, while nonparents have greater indifference. These are important considerations in today’s environment.
Combining a greater demand for social responsibility and the fact that the sustained program is preferred by consumers over the opportunistic donations in times of need, companies now must plan their approach to CSR. Companies that have lasting relationships with philanthropic causes (as Aflac does with fighting children’s cancer) are viewed with favor by a growing portion of people affecting the
nation’s economy.
Corporate giving, however, is not the only determinant of a company’s reputation. Respondents also see integrity as extremely important, so an effective CSR philosophy should promote the integrity of the company, which can manifest itself in many ways.
One such factor is diversity. In fact, 65 percent of respondents agree that the higher a company’s ethical standards, the more diverse the workplace will be.
Protect Your Rep
In today’s culture, businesses that make mistakes are often scolded on social media as being careless or unresponsive to the community. If a company is caught cutting corners or is seen as less than transparent, a steady drumbeat of criticism can threaten its very existence or cause significant costs to overcome the infraction.
After all, the old saying “a reputation is hard to earn but easily lost” is generally true. Companies would do well to heed it.
Learn More
For more information about the insurance company and its support of childhood cancer research and treatment, go to www.aflac.com.

Free Senior Safety Check Offers Peace of Mind for Family and Friends

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Approximately 60 percent of adults aged 65 and older living alone or in care facilities receive no regular visitors, according to recent studies. Loneliness is a challenge for older adults, especially during the holidays. Some may have no close relatives; others may have family members and friends too far away to visit regularly.
A daily weekday phone check-in service provides peace of mind to family and friends of older adults living alone. The Always in Touch program, offered free from Always Best Care Senior Services, is designed mainly for seniors or disabled adults who are homebound, isolated, living alone or in need of daily contact. It can be temporary for someone recuperating from an illness or surgery, or it may be a more permanent situation, according to Always Best Care.
Here’s how it works: Representatives of Always in Touch call each day and allow the phone to ring up to 15 times. If no one answers, they will call again 15 minutes later. If there’s still no answer, the representative will try to reach the individual’s designated emergency contacts.
“This unique program allows us to give back to our communities in a very meaningful way,” says Michael Newman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Always Best Care.
Friends and family members who do live near elderly relatives living alone also can help address holiday loneliness by assisting with opening and reading holiday cards, arranging for visits from a representative of a local church, decorating the home, or organizing a party at a senior facility.
Loneliness often leads to depression if ignored. Signs of depression in seniors include loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities or socializing, and problems sleeping. Regular phone calls when family members are distant, as well as when they live nearby, are an important way to combat depression by making older adults feel loved and cared for.
Always in Touch is not a substitute for professional medical advice or services, and the company reminds individuals and caregivers to call a personal physician or 911 immediately if help is needed. To sign up for the Always in Touch program, contact a representative from Always Best Care by calling 855-710-2255. For more information about Always Best Care services, visit www.always-in-touch.com.

College Debt a Big Concern for Millennial Parents

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Ah, the plight of parents with college-bound children.
According to the just-released 9th annual national “College Savings Indicator Study” conducted by Fidelity Investments, while more parents than ever before are socking away money to finance their children’s college educations — 69 percent nationwide, up 5 percent from last year — they’re still on track to save just 27 percent of their stated goals by the start of freshman year.
Even non-math whizzes can see what’s described as “the challenge ahead” implied by these two numbers: $232 (the median monthly amount parents report saving) and $31,231 (the current average annual cost of tuition and fees at private colleges).
Of particular interest may be the behavior of millennial parents.
This is the generation, born between 1981 and 1997, whose particular revelation from the 2008 recession was how tough it is paying off their own student loans while trying to establish a career (56 percent who graduated with such debt remain saddled with it). So it’s understandable, as the study found, that they “appear particularly determined to help their children” avoid the same plight — specifically, by planning on covering 8 percent more than the 66 percent of their offspring’s college costs than parents overall.
“Millennials have weathered challenging conditions for much of their adulthood, and have adopted smart savings habits at a higher rate than their older counterparts,” says Keith Bernhardt, vice president of retirement and college products at Fidelity.
Here are some ideas you might not have thought of to keep from underfunding your own kids’ higher education:
* Consider opening a 529 Plan. According to the survey, 93 percent of parents using one of these state- or state agency-sponsored, dedicated college accounts say it helps keep them on target. Savings can be used for tuition, books, and other education-related expenses. And the best part? Federal income taxes are deferred on any earnings, and separate state tax deductions may also apply.
* Get with the trend. You’ve heard of wedding registries set up to help finance a honeymoon in, say, exotic Bora Bora, right? Well, it’s the same for college. If you have a 529 Plan through Fidelity, for example, its free 529 Online Gifting Service lets friends and family contribute to your account — with a private dashboard provided for you to send invitations and track gifts.
* Reallocate pre-school dollars. If your child has aged out of day care and afterschool care, that’s an average of $730 in monthly fees that could instead be squirreled away in a dedicated college savings account.
One other finding to emerge from the study: 70 percent of all parents say they need more “guidance” on the whole subject. Among the most popular Fidelity resource is an interactive, online College Savings Quick Check that lets you see how you’re progressing.

Millennials Are Determined to Lessen Their Kids’ College Debt

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Pity the parents of college-bound kids.
According to the just-released 9th annual national “College Savings Indicator Study” conducted by Fidelity Investments, while more parents than ever before are socking away money to finance their children’s college educations — 69 percent nationwide, up 5 percent from last year — they’re still on track to save just 27 percent of their stated goals by the start of freshman year.
Even non-math whizzes can see what’s described as “the challenge ahead” implied by these two numbers: $232 (the median monthly amount parents report saving) and $31,231 (the current average annual cost of tuition and fees at private colleges).
Of particular interest may be the behavior of millennial parents.
This is the generation, born between 1981 and 1997, whose particular revelation from the 2008 recession was how tough it is paying off their own student loans while trying to establish a career (56 percent who graduated with such debt remain saddled with it). So it’s understandable, as the study found, that they “appear particularly determined to help their children” avoid the same plight — specifically, by planning on covering 8 percent more than the 66 percent of their offspring’s college costs than parents overall.
“Millennials have weathered challenging conditions for much of their adulthood, and have adopted smart savings habits at a higher rate than their older counterparts,” says Keith Bernhardt, vice president of retirement and college products at Fidelity.
Here are some ideas you might not have thought of to keep from underfunding your own kids’ higher education:
* Consider opening a 529 Plan. According to the survey, 93 percent of parents using one of these state- or state agency-sponsored, dedicated college accounts say it helps keep them on target. Savings can be used for tuition, books, and other education-related expenses. And the best part? Federal income taxes are deferred on any earnings, and separate state tax deductions may also apply.
* Get with the trend. You’ve heard of wedding registries set up to help finance a honeymoon in, say, exotic Bora Bora, right? Well, it’s the same for college. If you have a 529 Plan through Fidelity, for example, its free 529 Online Gifting Service lets friends and family contribute to your account — with a private dashboard provided for you to send invitations and track gifts.
* Reallocate pre-school dollars. If your child has aged out of day care and afterschool care, that’s an average of $730 in monthly fees that could instead be squirreled away in a dedicated college savings account.
One other finding to emerge from the study: 70 percent of all parents say they need more “guidance” on the whole subject. Among the most popular Fidelity resource is an interactive, online College Savings Quick Check that lets you see how you’re progressing.

‘A Sunday Horse’: This Year’s Heartwarming Horse Story

(NewsUSA) – A talented young woman and her horses defy the odds to rise to the top of the show jumping world in a new family film, "A Sunday Horse," scheduled to debut in 2016.The movie is inspired by the true story of Debi Connor, a rider and trainer from Ocala, Florida. The story is set in the present, although the main events occurred in the 1980s. The star of the film, Debi Walden (her maiden name), has drive and talent, and dreams of becoming an Olympic champion in the sport of show jumping. Unfortunately, she lacks the money and resources to train for the top tier of the sport and she is unable to afford the expensive horses needed for Olympic-level competition.Debi defies the odds, doing farm chores in exchange for training and earning the emotional and financial support of an African-American entrepreneur with similarly humble beginnings. She buys several horses with no formal jumping skills, trains them herself and starts taking the Grand Prix jumping world by storm. When Debi and her horses make the U.S. Olympic team, her dream is within her grasp, but an accident during a training exhibition leaves her comatose and paralyzed. When she finally comes to, Debi sells her top prize-winning horse Touch of Class to her co-trainer, who takes the horse to the Olympics and wins a pair of gold medals for the USA.Despite a dire prognosis of never riding again, Debi perseveres through months of painful rehabilitation and enters the Governor’s Cup at the Virginia Horse Show, where, despite her ongoing struggles with paralysis and seizures, she competes against her old horse Touch of Class and wins.A "Sunday Horse" features a well-known cast, including Nikki Reed (Twilight), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible), Ryan Merriman (Final Destination), and screen legends William Shatner (Star Trek) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator). The director is Vic Armstrong, renowned stunt coordinator and second unit director on hundreds of films including Indiana Jones films, Terminator 2, Mission Impossible 3, and six James Bond movies. Armstrong has a personal connection to the story: He is a lifelong horseman whose father coached Great Britain’s equestrian team for five Olympic Games.The film premieres at the Equus Film Festival in New York in late November 2015.To learn more, please visit www.festival.net. The film premieres Saturday morning during the Li’l Herc Family Fest at the Equus Film Festival in New York. 

How to Help Your Child Get Over Math Anxiety

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Were you a math whiz growing up, or did you struggle and feel anxious at the mere mention of math? As a parent, you surely don’t want your child to experience the same thing.
“It’s easy to help your child not only excel at math but also enjoy it,” says Raj Valli, the founder of Tabtor Math, a tablet-based math learning program for K-8 children personalized by a dedicated tutor. “Create a math-friendly environment, make math a playful language and participate in an ongoing dialogue about math.”
Valli offers the following advice for helping your child enjoy math.
Create a positive environment around math. Since children model the attitudes of those around them, speak positively about math (even hiding your true feelings). Say encouraging phrases like, “It’s really cool that you can use math every day.”
Think about math as a language. Because children begin using language when they are very young, they don’t feel the same anxiety about reading and writing as they do about math. To transfer this positive attitude over to math, approach math as a language, rather than as a “problem.” Count things together, measure things together and talk about the numbers involved in any activity you are doing together. Don’t worry too much about getting answers “right” or “wrong.” Instead, help them think through the process of using math aloud, in words.
Hold a math “dialogue” centered on everyday activities. Once your child is comfortable with thinking about math in language terms, ask at the supermarket how many cookies are in a package and how your child calculated this answer. She might refer to the size of the package or the size of the cookies inside. Whether right or wrong, it’s important to emphasize the process used in her head to make the guess. This gets her thinking about math as a visual subject involving shape and volume, rather than just as numbers in a line.
You might ask an older child how many slices of bread are in a loaf, how thick each slice is and how long the loaf is. Open the package to see how close the estimate was. He will learn to feel comfortable with estimating and will enjoy a conversation with you using math as a focal point.
If you set the stage correctly, you’ll find that your child enjoys math more than you did — and then you can relax and enjoy your child’s future success in the classroom.
To learn more, please visit www.tabtor.com.

Protect the Financial Future of Your Loved Ones

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – NewsusaInfographic – In life, you work hard to take care of those you love. And when people depend on you, it’s important to ensure financial support for the future. Whether you have a mortgage, childcare expenses or student loans, the cash benefits from life insurance policies can help provide financial stability for family members down the road. Read below for additional information about the ins and outs of life insurance. For more information, visit aflac.com.

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