Leaving a Legacy for Good
When the Santjers wanted to simplify charitable planning for their estate, the Community Foundation was there to help.
Merle and Mary Santjer are proud parents.
In their son Matthew’s childhood room, medals still hang proudly on display, far too many to count, right next to trophies and old team photos. Matthew was diagnosed with autism at age two, but according to Mary, it was his passion for sports that led him to find and lead a happy, healthy life.
“I truly think the sports programs opened the world to him,” she says with a big smile. “Today, he owns his own home and car. He’s happy and healthy and we’re thankful.”
Naturally, when the Santjers were updating their estate plan, Matthew was on their mind.
“There was a moment when my son taught the kids on his team, ‘I’m human’,” says Merle. “I may have a disability, but inside the word disability is another word. That’s ability. So, when we worked with the Community Foundation to update our estate plan, we wanted to make sure that organizations that supported Matthew and brought him to that point could continue on after we passed away and that those funds would be used in a proper manner.”
As a financial advisor at The Friedman Group, Merle saw the benefits of working with the Community Foundation as a way to simplify their estate plan. Wanting to show their children and grandchildren the importance of a lifetime of giving, Merle and Mary decided to make a bequest to the Foundation to support causes that impacted their entire family, and their son Matthew.
Today, the Santjers are also hard at work fundraising for the Miracle League Baseball Field of Dubuque. A passion of Matthew’s former coach Tom Witry, Miracle League is a local effort to create an all-inclusive baseball field and playground. Merle, Mary and the Miracle League Board worked with the Foundation to establish a project fund to support their fundraising efforts. The Foundation handles the gift accounting and acknowledgements—giving them more time to support all the causes they love.
“Know that your gift, whether it’s time or talent or treasure makes a positive impact on other people,” says Mary. “It moves you to give as much as you can.”