A Lasting Legacy – Elka Kazmierczak
For many, thinking about planning a will can feel hard because it raises questions we often try to avoid thinking about. What will happen to everything I have accumulated when I am no longer here? What do I want my legacy to be? How do I even begin the process? As longtime AWBW supporter and Leader Elka Kazmierczak shares, it can actually be incredibly empowering.
“My journey with A Window Between Worlds began at a difficult time in my life, when I was a client of Child and Family Services in Buffalo, New York, and had an opportunity to participate in AWBW’s art program. I was inspired by my counselor Lucy, who encouraged me to use my creativity to develop new workshops for AWBW. I soon traveled to AWBW’s studio in Venice for training, and then began developing a program for a shelter with the help of committed counselors. One of the most inspiring aspects of AWBW was the uniqueness of the services they provide. The Leader does not attempt to interpret the clients’ work but rather invites the client to interpret it herself. The way the workshops are structured really spoke to me.
I began thinking about planned giving when I heard of a plane crash on the news, as I was getting ready to fly over the Atlantic to visit my parents in Europe. It triggered thoughts of my own mortality and desire to make a statement about my commitments in life and what is important to me. I identified personally with AWBW’s mission for two important reasons: my love for art making and my mission to empower women who experienced domestic violence. I recognize we live in a culture that perpetuates violence against women, which is unlikely to change in the short term, so the need for programs like the ones created by AWBW will keep growing.
Highly compelling in my decision to include AWBW in my planned giving, is my trust in how AWBW spends money. When I was a Leader, the funding I received from AWBW for my program, as well as the supplies I received, gave my program continuity and enabled me to create exhibitions of my clients’ work. I also know that AWBW has the lowest overhead costs among the nonprofits I support.
To me, planned giving feels like the ultimate expression of free will: having the power to decide how to distribute the money I have earned. In a more practical sense, I worked with AWBW to familiarize myself with the language my lawyer and I needed to use in my will, as well as the type of planned gifts that are the most useful to AWBW. I found the process to be exhilarating and I hope I can inspire others to think about their social responsibilities as they begin planning the legacies they want to leave.”
AWBW is incredibly honored by Elka’s choice to include AWBW as part of her legacy. Through this commitment, she has ensured that the impact she has already made on countless program participants over the last ten years will continue for decades to come. Please read our enclosed brochure to learn more about AWBW’s Healing HeARTs Legacy Society.