The True Impact of Planned Giving

The following was written by a member of the FamilyWorks community to help share the importance of planned giving to our community, and its own personal significance in their life. To start planning a bequeathal and join the Merridy Williams Society, visit the FamilyWorks Planned Giving page.

A few years ago when I made out my Last Will and Testament, I bequeathed FamilyWorks a certain percentage of my net worth. At the time I certainly did not [do not] know if there would be any money at all when the time comes, but who am I to say what the future holds? With that unknown in mind, I made out the will so that a certain percentage of my assets would be given to FamilyWorks — the magnitude of the gift being contingent on forces way beyond my control.

I chose FamilyWorks in particular because I wanted to mark my family’s experiences of food scarcity while benefitting the Wallingford food bank that addresses the urgent need for food of the people who come to it. FamilyWorks goes further to address the needs of its clients because at the same time it attends to people’s immediate hunger, it also attends to the complicated, urgent needs of parents caring for small children. FamilyWorks does its essential work on NE45th Street in the midst of Wallingford shops and businesses. The people of Wallingford should be proud that it is there.

I moved to Wallingford in the 1970’s, when I was in my early 40’s. Up to that time my life had been somewhat rootless, and so I vowed to stay in Wallingford for the duration. Eventually I bought a house in Wallingford and when I included FamilyWorks in my will, it was because FamilyWorks belongs to Wallingford, my chosen home.

There are other reasons, too.

At the time I made out the will, I knew I was far luckier in life than my mother and father, who nearly always struggled with poverty. Even when there was enough food, nobody ever forgot that sometimes there had not been enough. Fortunately for me, my parents were both story tellers and they talked about it.  They richly communicated essential truths about being hungry, about being stingy or generous, ashamed or proud, in isolation or in community. I am so grateful to them for their stories which showed them to be rich in wonderment about life and rich in “can do.” Their stories were also rich in grateful acknowledgement of the generosity of other people toward them. My support of FamilyWorks is meant to honor my parents AND the people who helped them in the worst of times.

My mother, who was white, came from rural Mississippi, from a family with an alcoholic father who sometimes could not hold a job.  Her family was often in desperate straits. The story is that during one of the most difficult of these times, a neighboring black family fed and sheltered my grandparents and their four children for a considerable period of time. I have only gradually realized that the generosity of that family must have been as dangerous as it was warm, given the violence in Mississippi during the early 20th century.

Throughout the span of my life I have often imagined that family as I have wondered about what those days in Mississippi must have been like. As I have increasingly grasped the horrific racial tensions in that time and place, the more wonderful that family seems to me. I realize now that the gesture of gifting FamilyWorks in my will is especially meant to mark the courageous spirit of generosity of those long ago people in a desperate time.