Casey’s story

Today’s story is an excerpt from the Missing Pieces Plan. My friend Casey reflects on her father’s creation of a family foundation.


It was the week of Thanksgiving. My husband, daughters and I were in Cleveland visiting my Mom, Dad, my brother and his family. Before the office closed for the holiday, my Dad asked me to meet him at work so we could talk. My Dad told me he wanted to start a foundation or some sort of charitable vehicle. He wasn’t sure what the options were; he just knew he wanted to formalize his giving. With 15 years of experience working in the philanthropic sector, I was eager to hear my Dad’s thoughts.

In that meeting, we talked about whether a donor-advised fund at a local community foundation made sense—lower overhead and less administration—or if he wanted a foundation for autonomy and reach. Knowing that we would need a mission, a clear idea from my Dad about what he wanted to support, I asked Dad what he had historically supported. I asked about what he cared about and who he wanted to help.

Based on what he shared, I researched the costs associated with donor advised funds and foundations. Then I went to work crafting a few different mission statements. I came back to my Dad with the results of my research, and we settled on a mission and structure.

We would create a foundation, which would receive an investment from my Dad as well as an annual contribution from our family business. We contacted a local lawyer with experience applying for non-profit status and began the paperwork. My Dad would be the chair of the Foundation. My brother, sister, and I would serve on the board. Fast forward a few months and my Dad suddenly died of a heart attack.

I sometimes wonder if Dad had a sneaking suspicion that he was not well. He had set the wheels in motion to create a foundation, and he put the finishing touches on his estate plan just months before he passed away.

Regardless of his possible premonition, I will be forever grateful for our Thanksgiving chat where my Dad shared his motivations for giving. Thanks to that, my brother, sister and I now direct the foundation’s resources to “support the efforts of young people who strive to improve themselves and the communities in which they live.”

My favorite part of Casey’s story is the fact that she and her dad had a conversation. Our legacies may not involve creating a family foundation. But the one thing we all can do is communicate our wishes for our legacy.

Our legacies don’t have to wait until we are gone.

They can be lived today.

By embracing this truth, we can step up the life we want to live and leave.

Today, I encourage to have a conversation with a loved one, a family member. What is important to you? In this life? And, when you’re gone.

I believe by just taking these small steps, we are moving forward – towards a more fulfilled life.

Sending love,



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