It’s that mystical grocery store aisle that is usually numbered something like 15 or 18, tucked away somewhere between Ziploc baggies, a/c filters and car wax. The Baby Aisle is that place that you just don’t wander down unless, of course, you have a baby! Chock full of every imaginable style and size of diaper to newfangled toddler convenience foods and disposable bottle supplies, you can find things on the baby aisle that you didn’t even know you needed!
I have gone down the baby aisle just a few times since my boys have been grown. The memories of little fingers reaching for Cheerios on the highchair tray, gooey infant cookie crumbs and that indescribable smell of baby shampoo come flooding back.
Now the Baby Aisle has become a metaphor for me representing the new experiences, and the passages in life.
My oldest son has gone off to college and his brother is right behind him, and I have recently lost my father after a life well lived. I have experienced the newness of the Baby Aisle in a much different fashion, but in a very similar way. These enriching experiences have enhanced my work and my perspective at the Foundation.
I have sought out scholarships for my boys hoping to ease the burden of college tuition. While my sons are unable to apply for the Foundation’s scholarships because I work here, I am able to relate to the over 1,000 applications made for our competitive funds. And, I have relished in the company of scholarship donors who could in no way understand the gratitude I feel for such generosity, not for my sons but for those young men and women, or adults seeking to return to school, who will benefit from their scholarship funding in the near future and the others just like them who will also benefit every year after.
Losing a loved one comes with its own toolkit usually provided by friends who have gone down that aisle before me. Understanding that grief can be exhausting and is often only soothed by time, I have learned to talk about death more easily because I have experienced loss and know that we will all go that way one day. I have learned from our future fundholders, our committed Foundation companions, that the more you plan for your final hours, the kinder the gift for your loved ones.
I have worked with many who have planned their legacies in detail. No matter the amount of their wealth, or whether they give now or simply are planning their giving in their will or estate, these donors write up a simple “letter of request and direction” so that when they are gone, there is a directive to us in order to benefit the causes that they cared about throughout their lifetime. Sometimes there are estate tax benefits to the donor and other times it is all about their love of their community, alma mater or charity.
An important part of our work, each year the Foundation grants out over $500,000 in community impact grants to regional nonprofit organizations with endowed money left to us by donors for certain causes. It is endowed to last forever. The board of trustees and staff are the stewards of their generosity and see to it that their philanthropy is well spent on measurable results according to their wishes.
Taking a trip down the baby aisle is a lot more fun the first time around, but it is all part of the journey. If you want to plan for your legacy, we make it very easy, and I may even suggest it as fun. Check out how on our website at www.FloridaCommunity.com, or just give me a call or email me at [email protected] I am finding out that grocery shopping truly can be a pleasure.
photo from timesunion.com