Help this family rebuild their entire life savings:
- Robin Gonzales, her husband, and her sister were robbed by a fraudulent financial advisor
- Robin’s little sister, Roiann, needs care for early-onset dementia
- Without funds, Roiann will be forced out of her long-term care facility, losing the protection she and her family worked so hard for
When Robin Gonzales discovered that her sister Roiann had early-onset dementia, she decided that for as long as she lived, she’d do whatever it took to ensure Roiann was always safe and always cared for. But Robin talks about her “baby sister” with such fondness, such love, that it’s immediately clear: This was never so much a decision as it was simply an instinctual knowing.
Roiann, Robin, and their cousin.
Robin is the oldest. She is Roiann’s big sister. And she takes her role as protector seriously — because she always has. Even when her mom’s dementia diagnosis came on the heels of Roiann’s. And again still, when her only other sister was also diagnosed. It’s not lost on Robin that she is the only woman in her immediate family yet to receive a diagnosis — but Robin will tell you she has no time to worry about such things.
Roiann + her mom after both were diagnosed with dementia.
Robin is the protector.
As Roiann’s dementia has progressed, her needs have evolved. And several years ago that meant choosing to move her into a long-term care facility. The family couldn’t do everything all on their own anymore — they needed help. The facility was able to provide the kind of intensive day-to-day care Roiann needed and deserved.
Before her diagnosis, Roiann loved health and fitness. She was extremely active in the church. She worked hard and she saved diligently — so even when she could no longer ride her bike or go to the gym or buy the healthy snacks that her family loved to tease her about, she could still live the good life she had worked hard to save for. Between her savings, her disability, and a check she receives from her previous employer, Roiann’s family has been able to continue paying the care facility’s $7,000 / month price tag.
But Robin is her sister’s protector.
So Robin does the math. And it doesn’t take long for her to realize that the money is going to run out. You see, Roiann is in her early 60s, and while dementia runs in their family, so does longevity. And she’s clear that they may need the funds to last decades more. Robin needed a plan, and she needed one that wouldn’t require her other siblings to pull from their savings.
And so Robin and her husband met Isaiah at what seemed like the perfect time. Isaiah was a financial advisor. A young, charismatic father of four whose mission was to help folks from communities who’ve been traditionally denied access to financial institutions and wealth building. Black folks like myself and the Gonzaleses. And that’s how I’d eventually come to know Robin and her husband, Reverend Gonzales. Though at different life stages and for different reasons, we’d both eventually decide to invest our savings with Isaiah.
Robin and her husband Reverend Gonzales.
For Robin and Reverend Gonzales, the decision to invest was a thoughtful one. This was Robin’s baby sister's life savings. It was their retirement. The stakes were high and so they considered it at length. Meeting with Isaiah on many occasions, doing their research, talking with their families. They were vulnerable with Isaiah. They shared what the investment meant: the chance for Roiann to live the rest of her life with the care and safety she deserved. Isaiah was confident, he reassured them that he understood:
Robin was Roiann’s protector and he could help Robin protect her baby sister.
They decided to invest.
What happened next is… a lot. But what you most need to know is this: In December of 2020, an FBI agent showed up at the Gonzaleses’ door with the kind of awful news you never expect to hear.
The money was gone. All of it. All $446,000 of it.
Isaiah had been defrauding his clients, and the lies had finally caught up to him.
And while the U.S. criminal legal system is built to punish — it can and did put Isaiah in jail — it often fails to heal the damage left behind. And in this case, that means that Roiann, who of course still has dementia, and the Gonzaleses, who are past retirement age, are left without the long-term care and ability to retire they had worked their whole lives for.
Roiann at her care facility.
But still, Robin is her sister’s protector. And despite the insistence from her family that this is, of course, not her fault, the guilt that she feels over what happened is heavy.
So Robin went back to work. And despite her deep, deep desire to retire, she will work every single day of her life if she has to. Because she is the big sister. As she told me: “I’m not regretful. I’m not angry. I’m just not...I’m going to do what needs to be done.”
But what happened to the Gonzaleses, and to Roiann, and to the rest of the victims is not our fault. And everyone deserves the chance to truly enjoy the gift of growing older.
Robin, Roiann + Family.
That’s why I am coming to you today. The Gonzaleses have given me permission to organize this GoFundMe on their behalf. Every dollar of this campaign will go directly to them, to support Roiann’s care and to ensure that Robin gets the chance to retire.
Robin is her sister’s protector. Robin will always have Roiann’s back. And now I’m hoping this community can have Robin’s.
Thank you so much for your consideration. Every dollar and every share means so much.
(Organizing on behalf of the Gonzales Family)