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Friday, May 1, 2015

Meet CSA Spotlight, Debi Lawson

CSA Spotlight
I became a CSA in the fall of 2013. My expertise and my passion is working with individuals and families with end-of-life planning, with a focus on final arrangements. After working at a funeral home for a few years, I learned the importance of pre-planning final arrangements, but I also learned the reluctance that people have to talk about death and end-of-life plans. Because a funeral home can be an overwhelming place to visit and plan, I did the research and developed my business, Essential Arrangements, and help people pre-plan their final arrangements, independently and without involving a funeral home. By planning independently, I can help families save hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars, while having their final wishes be personalized. My mission is to educate clients about the choices and options available, so they make informed decisions, and not decisions that are for the benefit of the funeral home. I teach my clients the importance of having written, complete plans, and having funding that matches those plans.

I have also added guardianship and conservatorship services to Essential Arrangements. Through my work with seniors, I have learned about so many who do not have family, do not have family members locally, or who do not have friends/family members that are an appropriate choice to handle the decision making for the person and/or their finances. I have clients who have been exploited by neighbors and family members, and it breaks my heart that no one reached out to help them, and in many cases, I was told by other professionals they knew "something was wrong" but didn't know who to call or what to do.

A particular passion of mine is assistance to adults with developmental disabilities. Being the mother of a special needs adult son, I have a place in my heart for this population, and am glad to assist, many times on a volunteer basis, whenever needed to do so. Many of these folks are outliving their parents and other family members, and my personal goal is to see that they are taken care of like a family member, as I hope someone would do for my son if I'm not here.

The CSA credential has opened up opportunities for networking with other CSA's, sharing information, having resources available to share with my clients, and continuing to learn how to better assist my clients. At first, I wasn't sure if becoming a CSA would be beneficial to me, but I was quick to learn that it is a great benefit, for my own learning and professional development, and for service to my clients. If I need someone in a different state or location, with a different area of expertise, it is easy to look at other CSA's on the website and locate the right person. With our society being so mobile and so spread out these days, being able to locate other professionals and talking with them prior to referring a family is a valuable service that clients appreciate. I learned so much at the conference last year, and made many wonderful connections with other CSA's. I am anxious for the San Diego conference this year, to renew those contacts and make new ones.

I am on the editorial board of the Senior Spirit. Our Senior Spirit newsletter is a valuable resource to share with clients, and I encourage every CSA to read and share the Senior Spirit newsletter. I encourage you to become involved in some way and not just "wear" the CSA credential. Volunteering for a committee or a board is a great way to get involved, to meet other CSA's and to make the most of your credential for which you worked so hard.

Debi Lawson, CSA
Essential Arrangements

Debi Lawson was featured as the CSA Spotlight in the April Senior Spirit Newsletter. 

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors