Friday, April 03, 2009

Secrets in America: New Documentary Focuses on Elder Financial Abuse

By the time David Jones emailed me to say that “our” film was finished, I’d forgotten all about it. It was well over a year since I’d met Stanislaus County’s Communications Director and it had taken that long to secure the funds and produce the half-hour long Secrets in America. With $12,000 in grants from the Stanislaus Community Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, David used friends and volunteers to shoot footage from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

Despite the delays, the film is very timely, covering issues like predatory lending, lottery scams, and the sale of overpriced or worthless deferred annuities and reverse mortgages.

The film packs a powerful “neighbors looking out for neighbors” message through the account of Telvina Dias, who let two home repair cons into her home and was intimidated into writing them a check for a $2,500. Dias is exuberant as she describes how police, called by vigilant neighbor Jim Ross, nabbed the crooks. They’d approached Ross earlier, and he’d been watching Dias’ ordeal unfold. The film also emphasizes the importance of families looking out for elderly members and elders staying engaged with friends.

Actor Doris Roberts, best known for “Everybody Loves Raymond” makes an appearance. Roberts has participated in other Stanislaus County anti-abuse events and testified before Congress about elder abuse and ageism. You may recognize some other familiar faces.

One hundred DVDs were produced for senior centers, retirement communities, churches, and other venues; and nonprofit organizations can get copies for free. David also plans to pitch the film to PBS affiliates. To view it, click Secrets in America.

1 comment:

David Jones said...

Lisa - thank you! You really were awesome in this documentary. You pulled it all together. On a sad note, Telvina Dias passed away suddenly about a week after the premier event. It was an honor to introduce her as a hero at the event for her courage. She will continue to make a difference in people's lives hopefully long into the future.