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eMagazine Cover – Jan. 2014

January 2nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Misc

January2014

2013: What A Year!

January 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in U-Tube

Get Screened for Cervical Cancer

January 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_26939851Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in the cervix, which, early on, may not exhibit any signs or symptoms. In advanced stages, it may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. It is often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Cervical cancer is highly preventable in the United States because of screening tests and an HPV vaccination. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and has high survival rates.

The two tests women can use to help prevent cervical cancer or catch it in its earliest and most treatable stages are the Pap test (or Pap smear) and the HPV test. Having these tests done at regular intervals beginning at age 21 is the most important thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer.

Besides regular screenings, other steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer are not smoking, using condoms during sex and limiting your number of sexual partners.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Winter Letter From Our President

January 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Misc

Dear Clients & Friends,

If you’d like individual health coverage beginning January 1, 2014, be sure to enroll by December 23, 2013. If you live in MD or VA you can purchase coverage on or off the exchange but in DC you must buy health coverage on the exchange.

Maryland Health Connection http://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/

Virginia – Federal Exchange https://www.healthcare.gov

DC Health Link https://dchealthlink.com/

To get an ACA-compliant Individual (or Family) Medical Plan quote CLICK HERE. Open enrollment runs through March 31, 2014. If you have any questions or need help, please give us a call.

Don’t forget about our free mobile app that makes working with Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc. easier than ever. Now you can:

  • Create a home inventory record that helps provide proof of ownership for your personal property when filing an insurance claim.
  • Document and report an accident right from the scene by collecting photos, contact info and other notes.
  • Track news headlines and timely tips that could affect your insurance options.
  • Contact us with questions or suggestions with the push of a button.

Download the Trusted Choice® Mobile App now.

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We strive to “WOW” you with the service we provide, if you have any recommendations or complaints we would appreciate hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 240-644-6000.

Sincerely,

David F. Hodge, MBA, CPCU
Pres. & CEO
Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc.
dhodge@hhsinsurance.com
P.S.- Thank you for your business.

Good News Stories of 2013

January 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Misc

As we come to the end of another year, let’s celebrate all the extraordinary people, events and milestones that made 2013 absolutely amazing. Sit back and smile as we count down our ten favorite Good News stories that showed us what a wonderful world we live in.

10. Woman Buys Groceries for the Man Who Robbed Her

470_2737454We broke the story of Jessica Eaves from Guthrie, OK, a woman who did an amazing thing for the last person you’d expect.

This mother of four was at a grocery store when her wallet stolen by a stranger. Instead of turning him in, she confronted him, and offered to pay for his groceries if he returned her property. He did, and was extremely grateful and apologetic. She spent $27 on his groceries, which included bread, milk, cheese and soup. “The last thing he said was, ‘I’ll never forget tonight. I’m broke, I have kids, I’m embarrassed and I’m sorry,'” she said.

Jessica credits her father for teaching her to “always, always be kind” and help those who are in need. We applaud her for looking past someone’s bad behavior to see someone worth helping.

Read the full Good News story here.

9. Tom Brady and Ellen Celebrate Two Young Boys and Their Act of Kindness

Ellen loves to support people who do good deeds, especially young kids like Danny and Tommy who made it a point to stand up to bullies.

In November, Tommy, 10 and the quarterback of his elementary school’s football team, heard that their water boy Danny, 6, was being picked on for his speech impediment and for wearing ties and jackets to school. Tommy recruited his fellow teammates, and they all showed up to Danny’s school dressed exactly like him to show the bullies it was time to leave Danny alone.

Because she wanted to reward their commitment, Ellen called up her friend Tom Brady and asked the football star to show the two boys what their good sportsmanship earned them: tickets to a Patriots game and Hall of Fame ceremony! Needless to say, they were ecstatic.

Read the full Good News story here.

8. If You Want to Stay Married for 75 Years, Do What This Couple Did

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We almost thought romance was a thing of the past until we read the story about this couple’s 75-year marriage.

Morrie and Betty met in 1938 and have been together ever since. They share a sense of humor, appreciation for life, and appropriate level of stubbornness. They also both love to grab lunch at the Department of Water and Power! We could all learn a thing or two from these doting lovebirds.

Read the full Good News story here.

7. This Teen Will Stop at Nothing to Cure Pancreatic Cancer

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There are brainchildren and then there is The Brainchild. Jack Andraka, a 14-year-old scientist, took it upon himself to completely change the process for detecting pancreatic cancer so it could be diagnosed when there was a 100 percent chance of survival. Prior to Jack’s invention, it could only be detected when there was a two percent chance of survival.

Take that, evil tumors! That’s why they call him “Cancer Paper Boy.” Jack is changing the world, and leading the way for others to follow suit. Hats off to him!

Read the full Good News story here.

6. If You Ever Doubted the Power of Social Media, You Won’t When You Hear This Dying Man’s Tale

When 3,500 people around the world took pictures of the sunset to fill the walls of a dying man’s room, the sky took a more beautiful shape.

After discovering his 63-year-old father, Brian Curtis, had lung cancer with only six months to live, Brandon Curtis, 29, launched a campaign across social media to bring happiness and inspiration to his dad’s final days. He created the hashtag #SkyBluePink, his father’s favorite color, and asked people to post a note, card or photo in Brian’s honor.

Thousands of people did, and though Brian has since passed, the campaign lives on in his honor. #WeLoveIt

Read the full Good News story here.

5. Waitress Pays for Government Workers’ Meal and Gets Huge Rewards

Sarah Hoidahl didn’t expect anything when she paid for the meal of two furloughed government workers. She just thought she was doing the right thing for two people directly affected the government shutdown. The New Hampshire waitress soon discovered that even the simplest act of kindness can yield unexpected rewards.

Sarah appeared on “Ellen” to tell her story, and she was repaid the $27.75 she spent on her customers’ meal… and $10,000 more. A few weeks later, Ellen caught up with Sara, and surprised her with a brand new car! Incredible things can happen with the smallest gesture.

Read the full Good News story here.

4. Woman Has a Dance Party Before Her Double Mastectomy

Deborah Cohan, 44, showed the world that going through something scary doesn’t have to take the joy out of your life. The physician and OBGYN was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, and used dance as a way to keep her spirits up. Right before undergoing her double mastectomy, she kicked off a dance party with her medical staff set to Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied.”

“I’ve always wanted to be in a flash mob and I wanted to do it in the OR with the people who are about to perform surgery on me, so we all have this great experience together,” she said.

Read the full Good News story here.

3. Marriage Equality Makes Huge Strides

2013’s landmark year for gay rights began in January when President Obama decreed that “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law” in his inaugural address. Since then, the fight for marriage equality has gained incredible momentum.

Ten states allowed gay marriage this year, more than doubling the number from only a year ago. The Defense of Marriage Act was finally struck down by the Supreme Court, allowing gay marriages to be recognized by the federal government. Four months later, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Supreme Court justice to officiate at a same-sex marriage.

That’s not all – the Senate approved a gay rights bill that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity, and a congressman running for governor of Maine proudly came out as gay during his campaign.

Who knows the great leaps forward proponents of marriage equality will reach by this time next year.

2. Pope Francis Transforms the Church

The first non-European Pope in history, Pope Francis has put a friendly new face on the Catholic Church and has encouraged Christians all over the world to rethink what’s really important in life. He criticized the Church’s obsession with condemning abortion and homosexuality, and critiqued the rampant “idolatry of money,” urging politicians to guarantee citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare.”

“The Pope of the Poor” is definitely living up to his nickname, as it was discovered he was sneaking out of the Vatican at night in disguise to help care for the homeless. No wonder this Pope was named Time’s Person of the Year.

1. Batkid: The Story of a 5-Year-Old Who Took Over San Francisco

As if he needs any introduction, Miles Scott, the 5-year-old known by most as “Batkid,” saved San Francisco in November, and subsequently captured the hearts of the entire world. Miles lives in the Bay Area, and has been battling leukemia since he was 2. He was granted the opportunity to star as his favorite superhero for the day by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which managed to morph his home into Gotham City and make his dream come true.

There were bad guys to fight off, a damsel in distress, the one Batmobile, and a hero’s welcome waiting for him at the end, quite fitting for a kid who is a hero in real life.

Read the full Good News story here.

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What Burglars Hate the Most

January 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Security measuresIf you think you’re not at risk of being a victim of burglary, think again. If there’s an opportunity to invade your home, no matter who you are or where you live, burglars will take the chance.

“Burglaries are considered ‘crimes of opportunity’ because the criminal is looking for the easy way to get into your home – the unlocked door, open garage door or open window,” says Charlene Miller, Crime Prevention Neighborhood Watch director at the Boise Police Department.

Fortunately, “There are practical security measures you can take to make it so difficult for burglars that they’ll go somewhere else,” Miller adds.

Want to learn what these measures are? Here are nine things you can do to make burglars think twice before trying to enter your home.

#1 – Secured Doors and Windows

In approximately one-third of home burglaries the burglar comes in through an unlocked door or window, according to the “Burglary of Single Family Houses”guide, published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

“The first line of defense in your home’s security is having solid core exterior doors with high quality grade 1 or 2 deadbolt locks,” Miller states. “French doors can be secured with a quality deadbolt lock and a slide bolt penetrating the upper or lower doorframe.”

Miller notes that sliding glass doors are especially vulnerable if they do not have proper locks, so check with the manufacturer for the right ones.

“A snug-fitting dowel (a piece of cylindrical wood – similar to a broom handle) in the lower track of the door will also prevent it from being opened.” Miller also recommends installing eyebolts in the frames of sliding windows to allow for ventilation without leaving enough room for an intruder.

#2 – A Loud Dog

Dogs are not only “man’s best friend.” They can also be a burglar’s worst enemy.

In fact, COPS reports that most burglars avoid houses with dogs. “Burglars don’t want to be seen or caught; they also want to avoid pain,” agrees Miller, who adds that dogs that bark – even small, noisy dogs – can be an effective deterrent.

And while you might feel safer with a large dog that could do bodily harm, like a German Shepherd, Miller says the most important aspect is having a dog that sounds an alarm with its bark.

#3 – A Home Security System

If you want something that not only makes noise when there’s an intruder, but also calls for help, consider installing a home security system. Home security systems detect when someone enters your house uninvited, sets off an alarm, and also notifies authorities of an invasion.

“If you have valuables that need protection, rampant burglaries in your area, and are away from home for long stretches, a home security system could be a good option for you,” says Miller.

She recommends doing some online research and checking with local alarm system companies to find the best system for your needs.

#4 – Motion Sensor Lights

Installing sensor lights (which turn on when they detect motion) is a great way to illuminate portions of your property only when needed – like when someone enters the area.

Sensor lights will come on as soon as someone enters under cover of darkness – as a burglar would.

“Outside lighting is one of the cheapest and most effective deterrents to crime,” states Miller, who adds that “motion sensor lights give you the ease of having lights come on automatically.”

#5 – Surveillance Cameras

A video surveillance system can be a bit costly, but it could help you sleep better at night.

“Installing a video security system can give you peace of mind and act as a deterrent to burglars, especially when you’re on vacation,” Millers states.

However, if you don’t want to go the full route of installing a system, think about putting up a “dummy” camera or two to give the illusion of protection. And while Miller agrees installing a “dummy” camera could intimidate a burglar, she says the downside is it can’t provide evidence if a burglary occurs.

#6 – Protection Warning Signs

Got a dog or a home security system? Share that information with signage on your fence, door, or window. Much like putting up security cameras, letting a burglar know you are well protected makes you less of a target.

“It’s important to look at your home from a burglar’s point of view,” shares Miller. “Burglars who think they might be seen or caught will think twice before targeting your house.”

Miller cautions that while having this kind of signage can be to your advantage, it could also make burglars wonder what you have that’s worth protecting.

#7 – A Trimmed and Tidy Yard

Untrimmed trees and shrubs provide good hiding places for burglars and can obscure their entry into your home.

To get a better sense of what she means, Miller suggests the following: “Stand out on your front sidewalk and take an objective look at your house. Do you have trees or shrubs providing hiding places for someone?” If so, Miller recommends trimming tree branches up to six feet from the ground and shrubs down to below window sills.

A shaggy lawn – especially one that’s usually trimmed – can also indicate to a burglar that you’re likely on vacation, or simply away on business for a prolonged period of time. Consider hiring someone to mow your lawn if you’re going to be out of town for more than a week.

#8 – The Appearance That Someone Is Home

Burglars know your routine, and when there’s a break in that routine – like when you’re on vacation – it’s a signal that your home is clear for a break-in.

With that in mind, Miller says that “the goal when you’re gone is for your home to appear lived in.”

To accomplish this, Miller suggests using motion-sensor lights and timers on your radio and TV to simulate occupancy and create the illusion that you’re home.

Corvallis, Oregon home insurance professional, Bonnie Lundy, agrees: “Anything you can do to make your home look occupied while you’re away is a good thing – and timed electronics are great for that.”

She does caution, however, that burglars are aware people use timers, and recommends some variation in the pattern.

#9 – Helpful Neighbors

We just talked about making your home look lived in while you’re away. And while simulating occupancy can get tricky, the good news is you can enlist help. The best recruits? Your neighbors.

Whenever you’re away, Lundy highly recommends asking your neighbors to get your mail and newspapers, and check for any deliveries. Miller also recommends asking them to put garbage bags in your garbage can.

And that’s not all. You should also “ask a trusted neighbor to park their vehicle in your driveway occasionally while you’re out of town,” suggests Miller.

Any sign of activity at your home is enough to deter most burglars – who count on an empty house.

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