“I live in the moment,” says Children’s National donor Shari Sternberger. “A half hour from now, something could happen and I could not be here, so I try and live for right now. It was Wayne, my husband, who really began ‘thinking forward’ about our retirement planning, about leaving a legacy that will someday help others.”The couple, who recently celebrated their 38th
wedding anniversary, met in the seventh grade. Wayne holds a PhD in ocean engineering and has spent his life in the world of science, having served as chief scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory for more than 30 years. Shari is a holistic practitioner who founded National Capital Therapy Dogs in 1990. She is certified in healing touch, colorpuncture, and will soon be certified in aromatherapy. “We balance each other,” says Shari of their professional work. Yet, despite their differences, both believe in the importance of giving back.As part of their overall retirement planning, Shari and Wayne set up a deferred Charitable Gift Annuity with Children’s National that will provide income to them in retirement. This option enables them to make a gift and in return, receive fixed annual payments for life that begin once they retire. Part of their payments are tax-free, and their gift qualifies for an immediate income tax charitable deduction. At the end of the contract, the remainder of their gift will support programs and services at Children’s National.For the Sternbergers, selecting the charitable gift annuity was not an automatic decision, but one they arrived at after careful consideration. First, they took a tour of Children’s National to better understand its operations and culture. Then, they began attending events to learn more about its impact on the community. “When I walked through Children’s National, it felt like a place where the whole family is cared for,” recalls Shari. “It’s not just about treating the disease; it’s about looking at the whole family.”Over time, the Sternbergers became more familiar with the work and employees at Children’s National. “When we were ready to discuss our plans, they were there,” recalls Shari. “I never once felt rushed.”After meeting with their financial planner and Children’s National gift planning representative Vikki Ismael, the couple embarked on a seven-month journey, during which they mapped out their financial future. “We realized it is very possible to leave a legacy that may be considered small compared to other such gifts in the world, but that could still be ‘big’ in terms of its impact,” says Wayne. "The objective for us is to have our legacy gift help as many kids as possible.”Hearing this, Shari smiles and adds, “Children’s National has an animal program and thinks about things holistically. They take everybody, they don’t deny. Money is not the concern. They are championing the children. The healthy child and the happy whole family is the package you strive for.”What will your legacy be? Learn more about charitable gift planning.