Every contribution makes a difference

I have a friend who is an advocate for defenseless animals and contributes her time, talents and financial resources to the local Humane Society, which speaks volumes about her passion. Another friend’s heart goes out to the homeless, so he supports the needs at the local homeless shelter. One definition of passion is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” What are you truly passionate about? Whatever your passion, I believe you can join other like-minded individuals to create collaboration and generate tremendous results. I am so proud that our community has over 200 nonprofit organizations working to make our area a better place in which to live, raise our families and ultimately retire.

One of my passions is for quality health care for family and friends, so I have committed my time, talents and financial resources to Alpena Regional Medical Center through its Planned Gifts Committee. I am so often moved when I go to the hospital and see community family, friends and classmates volunteering their time to make life a little easier for the rest of us in the community. When your heart leads you to give to these causes, you experience a sense of closeness with this organization of similarly concerned people. The benefits of giving are numerous. Don’t wait for someone to ask. I encourage you to be proactive and just know you are welcome and appreciated.

Sometimes the needs in our community seem so immense that I wonder whether my small contribution can truly make a difference. That’s when I recall the story of a young man walking along the ocean who sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean. “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks. “Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.” “But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.” The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

The point of the story is that whether you give $5 or an hour of your time, it makes a difference to someone. Add all our efforts together and the synergistic effect is amazing. You may have heard that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts. This is a case where that is really true.

As an Investment advisor, a charitable technique I have recommended involves donating highly-appreciated stock. With the stock market hitting all-time highs, many people are sitting on highly-appreciated shares of stock. This could be stock that they have owned for a long time or perhaps inherited. If they have held the stock for at least one year, they may take a charitable tax deduction for the market value of the stock, and neither they nor the charity has to pay capital gains taxes when the stock is sold. The combination can result in a larger gift for the charity than if the stock holder simply sold the stock, paid the taxes and donated the net proceeds. Isn’t that a great win-win situation for both you and the organization you are supporting?

Another idea is to include in your will the instructions to leave a portion of your resources to your “passion.” The Wall Street Journal published a study showing that there was minimal impact to heirs when the deceased left 10 percent of their estate to their favorite charity. There are many creative ways to support your cause.

If you are interested in supporting Alpena Regional Medical Center as your personal cause, the Planned Gifts Committee offers its professional expertise and advice to assist you. For additional information contact ARMC Development Director Ann Diamond, at 356-7738 or adiamond@agh.org.