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    Here’s our story. We look forward to hearing yours.

    At Senior Safety Net, our sole focus is YOU.

    Robert Burns | Managing Partner & CeO

    If, as they say, we are all some combination of nature and nurture, then I really lucked out. I had the best of both. Whatever I am today I owe to two things I was given by my parents: a great set of genes and a great upbringing from a mom and dad who truly cared.

    My parents, Tom and Marsha Burns, are native Pennsylvanians. They were born during the hard years in the Great Depression, and like most members of the so-called Greatest Generation, they learned a simple, important lesson. They learned not to take things for granted.

    Mom and Dad met at a roller skating party in Oley in April 1961, and by that July they were married. They still live in Pennsylvania, where they've been married, happily, for some 52 years.

    I grew up with three older siblings, two brothers and a sister. In our house, being ethical and honest was not optional. In today's cynical world some folks might call it a cliché, but in the Burns family the Golden Rule was the rule: “Do unto others as you'd have others do unto you.” Long before the word “karma” came into widespread usage, Mom and Dad told us how it applied in everyday life: Always do the right thing, they preached, and it would come back to you tenfold.

    My parents believed that living with little in the way of material comforts was perfectly respectable as long as you put in an honest, hardworking day. To Mom and Dad, hard work was its own reward.

    They didn't just talk the talk; they walked the walk. Dad owned an ice cream shop and an insurance office, but for most of his working life he drove a tractor trailer and operated heavy equipment. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and then later, as we grew up, took work in a steel mill. Although both of my parents spent many hours away from home, we understood that they were doing what they needed to do to keep food on the table, provide a stable life for us, and ensure that we would always feel safe and loved.

    Early on my siblings and I learned from their example that we needed to work hard to get the things we wanted. One day when I was 10, I was at a friend’s house, and they had an old motorcycle up against the wall. Weeds were sprouting around it. I asked them if they wanted to sell it and they said, “Sure, that'll be 25 bucks.” I went home to ask my Dad; naturally he said “Go ask Mom.” Her immediate reaction was, “NO.” I replied, “But Tommy (my brother) bought his first motorcycle at 10, why can’t I?” Mom paused for a second and then, thinking she would stump me, said, “You have to pay for it, do you have the money?” But guess what? As a kid I saved every penny. I would even lend money to my brothers and parents occasionally, kind of like a payday loan. So of course my answer was a resounding “YES!”

    She gave in. “Well,” she said, “if you have the money you can buy it.” I used that motorcycle to commute to my first job at the local produce farm. Remember, I was 10 at the time.

    My parents also taught us that anything is possible if you believe in it with all of your heart. Here, too, it wasn't just something to say. It was something to live your life by. Literally, in Mom's case.

    In 1987, after a cancer diagnosis, Mom was given six months to live. She deemed that unacceptable. So she adjusted her mindset and repeated every day that she was not ready to go; she had too much to live for. Today, my mother is a proud cancer survivor. Her disease has been in remission for 27 years and she remains an amazing, vital woman. Mom proved to me that the mind and the will are powerful tools. She is the very definition of strength, perseverance and trust.

    Dad showed similar determination in his involvement with the American Legion. He'd served as a staff sergeant in the Air Force during the Korean War. After leaving the military, he started an American Legion post, and then some years later he and Mom formed a second post. Not surprisingly, Dad rose through the Legion ranks to the point where he was selected as a national vice commander for the entire American Legion organization for 2007-2008. His district stretched from Washington, D.C. to Maine. Not to be outdone, Mom, for years, was president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. Both are active in the “Home of the Brave” veterans' shelter outreach.

    But it doesn't end there. Dad is a Mason and a Shriner as well. For years he'd don a clown costume to entertain children and raise money for the Shriners Hospitals. I always got a special kick out of seeing this rough-and-tough truck driver dressed up as a clown.

    By now it should be clear that both Mom and Dad have always been generous with their time and money, no matter how little they had of either. They taught us that there's always someone who could use a hand up, and, if someday you need a helping hand, there will be someone there to offer it. Giving back, they said, keeps you grounded to where you came from. No matter how far you go in life.

    This is one reason why I founded, and for a time served as president, of the American Legion Riders’ motorcycle club, Post 184. (See, after that first bike at age 10, it was in my blood!). Since I myself was not a veteran, I wanted to show my appreciation to the millions of men, like my father, who sacrificed so much for the rest of us. I also joined the Sons of the American Legion, and I followed in Dad's footsteps in becoming both a Mason and a Shriner.

    There is one other important way in which I followed in Dad's footsteps: Like him, I understand that the most important part of any relationship is mutual respect. At Senior Safety Net, the firm I founded to help retirees navigate today's choppy financial waters. I still work from the premise that a handshake is the strongest contract there is.

    All of this is a long way of saying that if you should ever happen to come see me at Senior Safety Net and enjoy the experience, never forget that you have my parents, Tom and Marsha Burns, to thank.

    I can assure you that I won't.

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