Lehigh Valley set to ‘graduate’ from LIFE & LEGACY

By Stephanie Smartschan
JFLV Director of Community Development & Operations

The Lehigh Valley will be honored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation on May 27 for completing four years in the LIFE & LEGACY program.

The ceremony will take place as part of Grinspoon’s 2021 Virtual Legacy Gathering. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the community is invited to attend.

Additionally, a local celebration for community agencies, volunteers and donors will take place this fall.

“While completing Year 4 is a significant milestone, an unknown author is quoted as saying ‘the finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race,’” Arlene Schiff, LIFE & LEGACY’s national director, said in a letter to graduating communities. “We look forward to continuing to support your efforts to further make legacy giving a social norm in your community in the years to come.”

Through the efforts of the Jewish Federation, the Lehigh Valley began working with LIFE & LEGACY in 2017 as a way to reinvigorate local agencies to prioritize their endowments. Ten local agencies and organizations ultimately partnered in this effort, working together to collect letters of intent on each others’ behalf and finalize commitments.

Four years later, the participating organizations have 535 commitments from 330 donors, with an estimated value of $9 million. 

“I like to joke that I can’t attend a meeting without mentioning LIFE & LEGACY,” said Jim Mueth, director of planned giving and endowments for the Jewish Federation. “This partnership has been a major part of our efforts over the past four years, and also so fulfilling. We are a stronger community because of it.”

In addition to the financial incentives provided to participating agencies, the Grinspoon Foundation also provided years worth of training for LIFE & LEGACY “teams” at each organization. Now, those staff members and volunteers will be able to continue their work to strengthen the community’s future, and are in fact still working to finalize commitments by June 30.

“This truly is just the beginning,” said Jeri Zimmerman, executive director of the Jewish Federation. “We are going to take what we have learned and run with it for years to come.”