You might be thinking that this story will be about one of the sweet old ladies leaving some huge, unexpected bequest to the synagogue or school that they loved so much.
Not this time but please read on to hear what I think is truly the ultimate planned giving story.
Millie Geldman, one of the two women sitting down in the picture, passed away a few months ago, and as the Rabbi was discussing her connection to the synagogue and the community, I was thinking planned giving story. But, what I eventually learned was much more powerful that just another big bequest!
Millie grew up in the neighborhood and had been involved with the synagogue for her entire life (over 90 years I believe). Such a sweet woman, always smiling and interacting with children, even though she had not been blessed with her own. Everyone knew and appreciated her happy presence – a fixture in the synagogue for close to a century.
And, with her passion for children, it was not surprising that the local Jewish day school was perhaps her favorite local institution. In fact, she was so passionate about the school that when they announced a building campaign about 15 years ago, Millie and her sister made a very significant gift towards their new building. It was a beautiful story – Millie made her impact during her life and lived to see the fruits with her frequent visits to the school – she truly got “nachas” (pride) from seeing “her” children attend the school at their new location.
The story doesn’t end there. She survived her sister, living well into her 90s and her only “family” were the children from the school and the families in the community. But, as her health changed, she was less and less able to get around. In fact, she reached a point of where she might have needed to go into a nursing home – not exactly a first choice for Millie – a very personable and vibrant woman.
Her wish was to somehow stay in her apartment but she couldn’t afford it along with the aide she needed. You see, she gave away a good part of her savings when she made that gift to help build the school.
Here is what I think is the greatest planned giving story. The president of the day school, along with a group of friends in the community, made a commitment to raise the funds necessary to help Millie stay in her apartment. They did this for several years – the “keep Millie in her apartment campaign.” And, it worked. Home bound for the last 5+ years of her life, the community which she gave so much to and loved so much, took care of her and made sure she had the comforts that we’d want for ourselves and our loved ones.
Millie did a planned gift – she gave the bulk of her savings to make sure local children had a beautiful new school. And, the community gave back, not just in monetary support but also visitors and other forms of support throughout the years.
Yes, this was a planned gift and the results were tremendous.