“We tend to be philanthropic without huge means. I give to charities that are near and dear to my heart,” says Sue Melvin*, who recently made a simple bequest to JF&CS Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support. “So when I was re-thinking my will after [my husband] Harvey died in 2016, I decided we would make this contribution to JF&CS. We always wanted to do that. All I had to do was fill out a simple JF&CS form and call my attorney, who then re-wrote my will. It couldn’t have been easier.”

Both Sue and Harvey came to JF&CS Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support after Harvey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2007. Harvey’s neurologist had referred them to Nancy Mazonson, director of the program, for an occupational therapy (OT) evaluation. “Nancy is a model for anyone who wants to do good, helping work,” Sue notes.

The program was a “wonderful connection for both of us,” explains Sue. The couple used to enjoy folk dancing, so Harvey joined the Parkinson’s Dance program. He was also in the first JF&CS Parkinson’s Drumming class. “He enjoyed it so much that our children gave him an African drum,” she adds.

Sue also joined a care partner support group. “It was enormously helpful for me. The programs supported us together and separately through the Parkinson’s experience because it was all new to us,” Sue points out. “Meeting people in similar situations, forming friendships with patients and spouses, helped us to better understand the illness. Otherwise, it could have been lonely and isolating at home.”

“It gave us a sense of community and perspective and was extremely helpful for us. I’m a strong believer in community,” adds Sue. “The key value to us was a sense of calm and peace during a time that could be overwhelming, distressing, and unknown. I couldn’t really talk to many people about what I was going through, so I went to the [care partner support] group. It was so wonderfully supportive. I felt love, affection, connection, and honesty. It was such an important resource. It was my therapy.”

“We always believed in giving. Now, with our joint resources, I can do that through my will,” explains Sue. “JF&CS has been a wonderful resource and many of the services and support we received were free. This is our way of giving back. Unlike donors who are able to make an outright gift, I am not in that position – my resources are essentially in my real estate until I am gone someday. So I made a simple bequest out of my estate.

“I’m so glad to be able to give back in this way and I know it’s exactly what my husband would have wanted us to do. I would certainly encourage others to do the same. It’s exceedingly easy and I would assure anyone it will make them feel good for having done it. It’s a wonderful thing to do.”

Thinking About Tomorrow

It’s never too soon to start thinking about the future and a philanthropic planned gift is the ultimate act of kindness and generosity. It’s as simple as making a phone call to your attorney.

In addition to helping others, a planned gift can benefit you in a number of ways, such as reducing estate and income taxes, providing additional income for you or your heirs, and helping you achieve your personal and charitable objectives. One you have provided for loved ones in your will, you might consider a gift of money, property, or stock to JF&CS.

One of the simplest planned gift vehicles is a bequest through your will. Adding a charity as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or insurance policy is another easy way to ensure the future strength of JF&CS. Your gift will be a lasting tribute to your support of our mission while helping to guarantee a strong, viable, and vibrant future for JF&CS.

For more information, please contact Wendy Wilsker, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at wwilsker@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-5674.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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