For most of us, charity ranges from a few dollars in the Salvation Army’s pot to a gift of appreciated stock to establish an endowment or add a hospital wing. For some, it is much more personal. For Tyler and Connie Youngkin, charity is a life commitment.
When their children completed college, the Youngkins decided it was time to fulfill their dreams of serving their mission. They didn’t know what their future would hold, but they were committed to making it happen. Tyler withdrew from his medical practice, they sold their home, cars and belongings and moved in with their daughter. Sacrifices are not something most of us are willing to make for the good of others, but the Youngkins knew that they had to separate from their life of comfort to achieve their dreams.
Soon, they found themselves in Costa Rica attending a Spanish-language school, working in an orphanage, and learning about running a nonprofit. Returning to San Diego two years later, Tyler and Connie had their mission. They would move to Tijuana to rescue the street children (the children of prostitutes and drug addicts living in poverty and neglect).
Committing their personal fortune and themselves they have built an amazing success story. Instead of two children, they now have 94 from infants to 19 that they shepherd. Instead of a comfortable retirement, they work constantly with little time to get away. Instead of money to spare, they often reach into their own savings to cover shortfalls. Donations from Rotary clubs, churches and individuals are not always enough, especially when a child needs medical care or a washing machine needs to be replaced.
The Youngkins tell me they are living their dream lives. They are totally fulfilled by giving not their money but themselves. They have some amazing success stories to share. Children who were abused now leading their class, helping with other children and planning for meaningful futures. Drug addict mothers, who having seen the change in life for their children, are entering rehab programs, coming to work for the home and getting married. Tyler and Connie’s rewards cannot compare to simply the detached gift of money. But, then most of us won’t make the sacrifice Tyler and Connie were willing to make.
Most charities are experiencing contribution reductions. Recessions and bear markets are taking their toll. From art museums to zoological societies, many excellent purposes are served by the multitude of nonprofits that seek our favor. Having just returned from a visit to the Youngkin’s “home” and my work with the YMCA, I like to focus on organizations that help children.
It may be harder this year, but for charities, it is about the money. Your favorite charity needs your help. What is your focus? You don’t need to sacrifice like the Youngkins to make a difference, but this is a great year to help. If you need advice on how best to help your favorite charities, please call.
Mr. Wheeler is President and CEO of WheelerFrost Associates, Inc. a Wealth Management firm in San Diego. WheelerFrost has regularly been recognized by Worth, Bloomberg, and San Diego magazines as one of the top wealth managers in San Diego and the United States. For more information: [email protected] or 866-478-8794.