IRA legacy perpetuates love of outdoors & opera

Wilma Geels loved the outdoors and she loved opera. After her death in 2010, a gift from two different IRAs within her estate provided support for those interests forever through two grantmaking funds of the Community Foundation.

“Wilma Geels’ gift is a wonderful example of how a donor can be very focused in support of an organization they love, like Opera Birmingham, as well as broadly support a cause that’s meaningful,” said Erin Stephenson, Vice President Development for the Community Foundation, who worked with her on determining what the IRAs would benefit. “For Ms. Geels, that cause was the environment, so when she learned more about the mission of our Fund for the Environment, she was thrilled to direct half of her gift to future grants from that Field of Interest fund.”

“She really saw the value of being able to make a lasting contribution, something that would outlive her. She knew that her legacy gift was important to provide for the future, beyond the short-term challenges of today,” said John Johns, general director of Opera Birmingham, where Ms. Geels served as an active supporter and board member. “She made a generous gift every year and she saw this as a way to perpetuate her annual gift.”

Geels made her gift to Birmingham Opera through the organization’s endowment fund at the Community Foundation. Her estate gift to the Fund for the Environment will help drive positive change through targeted grants using the competitive process managed by Community Foundation staff.

A nurse by profession, Geels made Pell City her home when she moved to Alabama from Grand Rapids, Mich.

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