"I live in the moment," says Children's National Hospital donor Shari Sternberger. "A half hour from now, something could happen and I could not be here, so I try to live for right now. It was Wayne, my husband, who really began 'thinking forward' about our retirement planning, about leaving a legacy that will someday help others."
The couple, who recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, met in the seventh grade. Wayne holds a PhD in ocean engineering and has spent his life in the world of science, having served as a chief scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory for more than 45 years. Shari is a holistic practitioner who founded National Capital Therapy Dogs in 1990. She is certified in healing touch, colorpuncture and will soon be certified in aromatherapy. "We balance each other," says Shari of their professional work. Yet, despite their different approaches, both believe in the importance of giving back.
As part of their overall retirement planning, Shari and Wayne set up a deferred charitable gift annuity with Children's National that will provide income to them in retirement. This option enables them to make a gift and in return receive fixed annual payments for life that will begin once they retire. Part of their payments are tax-free, and their gift qualifies for an immediate income tax charitable deduction. At the end of the contract, the remainder of their gift will support programs and services at Children's National.
For the Sternbergers, selecting the charitable gift annuity was not an automatic decision, but one they arrived at after careful consideration. First, they took a tour of Children's National to better understand its operations and culture. Then, they began attending events to learn more about its impact on the community. "When I walked through Children's National, it felt like a place where the whole family is cared for," recalls Shari. "It's not just about treating the disease; it's about looking at the whole family."