Retired investment banker Charles Syer IV of Virginia Beach enjoyed being a future bequest donor to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. He liked visiting with staff members and attending special Legacy Society for Hampton Roads events. At VIP gatherings at the Virginia Zoo and Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center he got to know other generous future donors and take behind-the-scenes tours. Mostly he liked knowing his future gift would be well cared for by the community foundation where he had started a permanent unrestricted fund in 1996.
"The foundation is long-term, ongoing and for the whole general area," Charles said before he passed away in 2014. "As time goes by, organizations that are worthy during one period may change. With the foundation there is flexibility. The organization is steered by a group of people who have demonstrated they are responsible and capable of using money intelligently."
Pediatrician Alfred "Buzzy" Schulwolf, M.D. was nearing retirement in 2003 when he started reflecting on the generosity bestowed upon him nearly 50 years before by a stranger. That led to him creating a scholarship fund to help students who remind him of himself. Buzzy attended medical school at the University of Virginia on a Florence Smith Scholarship from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. His scholarship from 1954 to 1958 came from a bequest from Florence Smith, daughter of a Norfolk physician.
Buzzy returned to his hometown of Norfolk where he treated children for 43 years. After making $500 gifts of appreciation to the community foundation with in 2011 he used a $25,000 transfer from his Individual Retirement Account to start a scholarship fund to help future physicians. It is named for him and his late wife Helen.
"I regard myself as a charitable person," Schulwolf says. "But it struck me that I never had the opportunity before to give to a charity that had directly benefited me."
Hear how his Smith Scholarship helped Buzzy in his own words
Life was good to Lin and Ethel Mason, and the Norfolk restaurant owners found a way to return the favor – leaving a bequest that will forever benefit people in Hampton Roads through an unrestricted fund at their community foundation.
For more than 30 years Lin and Ethel owned Mason’s Seafood Restaurant in Norfolk -- a popular Granby Street eatery known for inventing Crab Norfolk.
Lin was frugal, rode the bus to work and invested in stocks. In 1979 he and Ethel closed their restaurant during its best business year. They enjoyed traveling, dancing the tango and entertaining friends in their home. After Ethel died in 1986 Lin worked with an attorney to create a permanent foundation fund that would start after his death. His attorney connected with the community foundation’s staff to craft the arrangement without ever revealing Lin’s identity.
Lin always said he was going to give most everything to charity, and that is exactly what he did. After his death in 2009 at age 97, his $2.2 million gift to the community came to the foundation letting the Masons live forever through their philanthropy.
The Masons’ unrestricted fund gives the foundation the flexibility to address community needs that Lin and Ethel couldn’t have imagined. Each year more than $100,000 in Mason grants to an array of nonprofits help them make Hampton Roads an even better place to live and work. Recent grants have helped expand the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science, renovate the Wells Theatre and helped the Elizabeth River Project expand its environmental programs for youth.
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