An easy way to say thank you and keep up the great work!
A while ago, I was asked to discuss why I feel it is important to include gifts to selected non-profit organizations in my estate plans. That's easy - I was raised to always recognize and thank those who do good things for others and, to the extent possible, help support those efforts. As a Jewish communal professional who has worked in Jewish non-profit organizations for over forty years, I've had the privilege of working alongside professional and volunteer colleagues who live their altruism as a reflection of who they are, not what they do. The nuance is important. You can choose to do something amazing because it is situationally timely, or others ask you to help. Or you can do the same thing because, constitutionally, you just cannot see how you could look away from the situation when you know you have the power to make the situation better.
From a childhood enriched by the role modeling of my maternal grandparents and parents, I learned that the ability to help is not only measured in dollars. From their very humble positions, my family heroes raised funds from friends, neighbors, and others for worthy causes. And I saw the time they devoted to others through volunteering for organizations in the Jewish and secular communities that helped our own family and many others.
So, throughout my life, I've volunteered in many capacities - water safety and first-aid instructor, volunteer EMT, tutoring high school students, committee and board service with synagogues and non-profit organizations in the communities in which I've lived. For me, it was not as much the money I could give, though I always gave what I could, but the time and ability to help that was my greatest contribution.
I have had a will since 1980 which has been revised several times as I married, had a family, and became a grandparent. It always listed some small sums designated for a few non-profits that have specific meaning to me and my family. Not so long ago, my Father's words from 1982 (the year he died) became my own - "I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize the old man looking back". Well, that moment motivated me to review my estate plans and put into action what I had always wanted to do - fine tune the testamentary gifts list to make certain it was up to date with all priorities included. And, yet again, I updated the will just today!
I could write this article for several organizations in and outside of San Antonio. But for today, I am focusing on the Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio (HFLA-SA).
A few years ago, my wife and I took out a loan to help our daughter consolidate and lessen the burden of her high interest school loan debt. It was an easy, painless process and the people involved in screening and interviewing us were almost all known to me from other activities in the community. I never knew they were involved in HFLA-SA since deliberations and decisions are always held in strict confidence.
That experience led me to ask how I could help. That began a multi-year process during which I was able to offer strategic organizational development advice on growing the capacity of the organization to make more loans while professionalizing its operations. That eventually morphed into my being hired in 2020 as a development consultant (primarily fundraising) and this past January, being offered the opportunity to become the half-time executive director.
There really are no finer people than the volunteer and professional colleagues I have had the honor to work with at Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio, Torah Academy of San Antonio Hebrew Day School, Congregation Rodfei Sholom, San Antonio Jewish Senior Services, Barshop Jewish Community Center, Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning, and the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. And the agencies they lead and strengthen are critical elements in the mosaic of rich Jewish life in San Antonio.
Since these agencies have greatly contributed to the quality of Jewish life in this community I’ve come to know as home, as well as my family directly, it is an honor to help guarantee that these organizations have the resources needed to provide the same or even better levels of programs and services for generations to come. LIFE and LEGACY provides the vehicle to achieve this goal.”