In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Becky Perdue received an anthrax vaccine so she could continue to do her job at Virginia’s state laboratory for public health testing. The side effects were not easy to deal with, but the precautionary step was essential for someone working on the front line, training laboratory professionals across the commonwealth how to complete biological and chemical testing.
“That was the first time people really saw that labs exist,” said Becky, who is an MCV Foundation board member and 1962 graduate of what is now the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences at the VCU College of Health Professions. “These days, labs are finally becoming even more well-known because of coronavirus. People are seeing that somebody has to complete their testing. It’s us. We’re always on the front line.”
The important, yet sometimes overlooked role lab professionals play in public health is why a recent influx in giving to the department has been so important.
“Donations to the department assist us in purchasing the reagents, supplies, equipment and test kits needed to adequately train our students,” said Teresa Nadder, Ph.D., chair of the department. “Our alumni are employed in hospital, reference and public health laboratories, many of whom are the leaders in the profession and have played essential roles in providing accurate COVID-19 testing results to our communities. Donations also assist us in providing student scholarships during a time when financial stress is commonplace and the need for more lab scientists is growing.”
Much of the recent giving to the department is thanks to Becky and a letter she sent fellow alumni last year. In it, she talked about her decision to include a gift to the department in her estate plans.
Joan Shumaker, a 1970 graduate of the program, also has made plans for a gift through her will to support the department. “I was an alternate going into that class,” she said. “They took a chance on me, and if they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had the career path that I’ve had. I hope my gift will help other students, particularly those who were given a chance like I was.”
“Especially now, there is great power in what our alumni can do when they come together through philanthropy,” said Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions. “The virus is providing us overwhelming evidence about the important work our medical laboratory scientists perform each day, given that they are on the front lines of the testing that is a centerpiece of how we fight the pandemic.”
“In our profession, we don’t make big money, but I’ve always tried to make the point that it isn’t the amount that matters, it’s whatever you can give,” Becky said. “It helps no matter what it is.”
The Hidden Front Line: Making a Gift Through Your Will
Gifts through your will support students, faculty and programs well into the future, and they may be structured in several ways, including as unrestricted, directed to a specific purpose, or to establish an endowed fund in memory of you or a loved one.
“It was a very easy process,” said Becky Perdue about her experience making a gift through her will. “I received the forms, read over them, signed them and turned them in. Most people don’t really understand that it is a simple procedure. Thinking about it and deciding to get it done is the main thing.”
Joan Shumaker’s gift included shares of stock, which she said is something others should consider. “It’s a win-win, because you can still use the stock dividends to your advantage during your retirement,” she said. “Then, when the time comes, they can benefit someone else.”
Doris Costley, a 1971 graduate of the department, said that when the time came for her and her husband to update their wills, including a bequest to her alma mater was simply something they knew they wanted to do.
“We like to give to scholarships because I know there are a lot of people who need extra help going to college,” Doris said. “We just feel like it’s something that a lot of people could use.”
For those who have included the MCV Campus in their will, it is important to also document that decision with the appropriate school or unit. In doing so, you can ensure your gift will be used in the way you see fit for many years into the future.
“It’s almost like organ donation,” Joan said. “Life goes on, and to think that you could create something that would help someone else contribute to society and to the health of other people, there’s nothing better than that.”
Advantages to making a gift through your will:
- Gifts through your will cost nothing now, yet give you the satisfaction of knowing you have provided support for the MCV Campus in the future.
- You retain control and use of your assets during your lifetime.
- You may modify your bequest if your circumstances change.
- Membership in the MCV Society, which includes invitations to special events and programs.
If you would like to learn more about how making a planned gift arrangement can ensure your legacy of support for the causes most important to you, please contact Ann Deppman, director of gift planning at the MCV Foundation.