What do Andrea from Charlottesville, Debra and Joe from Chicago, and Tina from Tucson have in common? A philanthropic nature, compassion for people less fortunate, and peace of mind when it comes to their legacy. Unlike them, however, 67% of U.S. adults don’t have a will. Why? The thought of “what happens if something happens” isn’t exactly uplifting. The process seems time-consuming, difficult, and even mysterious. But creating a will or living trust is more than just creating a piece of paper to gather dust or a tedious legal process. It is an important way to extend your love, care, and generosity to family, friends, and the causes we care for the most.

Sharon Bean, IRC’s Senior Director of Planned Giving, and Beth Savage, IRC’s Senior Officer of Planned Giving, go even one step further.


“During my years of work for the IRC, I have witnessed time after time how creating a will helps people gain peace of mind knowing that they are protecting the most important people in their life,”

says Sharon.

“However, if done mindfully, a will is much more than that. It’s creating a permanent testament to the values that have shaped a person,”

adds Beth.

For Andrea, Debra, Joe, and Tina, and for more than 1100 others, their personal values are mirrored within Partners for Freedom, a group of dedicated IRC supporters who offer a legacy of hope for future refugee and immigrant generations through a planned gift. Together, Partners for Freedom member bolsters the IRC's core programs to save lives, provide health care, educate refugee children, and help families who cannot return home to start anew in the United States.

Andrea’s connection to the IRC dates back to 1957, when the IRC arranged for her future husband, then 11-year-old Pál, and his family to seek asylum in the United States in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution. After retirement, Pál and Andrea volunteered as English teachers to new refugees through the IRC in Charlottesville and soon got involved with community outreach and fundraising activities. Following Pál’s death in 2017, Andrea decided that leaving the IRC in her estate plan would be a special way of honoring Pál for their incredible joint dedication to helping refugees.



“It’s a smart financial decision, one which will save taxes on my estate. But mostly, I feel good knowing that I am supporting organizations that provide hope and solutions for the overwhelming challenges that face people who are displaced around the world and need to make a new start,”

says Andrea, who has saved Pál’s IRC donor card demonstrating over 60 years of loyalty.


Debra and Joe also found that through their will, they can continue to help refugees get the aid they need to survive, recover and regain control of their lives, even after they are gone.

“My husband and I were fortunate to be born in the U.S. in the 1950s when, if you were white and your parents college-educated, you could take for granted you’d have clean water, ample food, and the opportunity for a good education,”

explains Debra this the decision.

“While we were lucky, so many millions aren’t, and there’s something just so wrong about that. No one can control the circumstances of their birth, but we can recognize just how lucky ours were.”

Due to their core beliefs, Debra and Joe made a bequest in their estate plan to the IRC.

“We believe all people deserve a country, a home, food, health care and dignity.”


For Tina, it all started with falling in love with Africa when she was only ten years old. After making more than 10 humanitarian trips to the continent, she decided to preserve the intense connection through a gift to the IRC in her estate plan.

“Sitting with my lawyer to fill out paperwork for my will, I gave thought to who most enriched my life these past decades, and who might benefit from my financial contribution,”

says Tina.

“The answer to me was simple…the IRC.”

Tina, a volunteer for the refugee resettlement department in the Tucson office was first assigned to give guidance to refugees from Ethiopia and Sudan, spending most of my time assisting them with their relocation.

“Witnessing their challenges, difficult times, fear and successes was an eye-opening experience,”

she describes the encounters.

“Thanks to my volunteering, I saw firsthand some of the wonderful work the IRC does. And I have been enriched as a person by partaking in this work and sharing my love. I believe in their worldwide mission and want to preserve it for future generations.”


Recently, the planned giving team, including Sharon and Beth, visited the IRC in Denver’s Development team to talk about Partners of Freedom and discuss possible collaborations and their challenges and wins (Denver received a gift of $50,000 from a donor in her will just last year).

If you are interested in learning more about how including the IRC in Denver in your will can carry your beliefs forward after your lifetime and how it can help us support refugees get the aid they need to survive, recover, and regain control of their lives, you can find more information here or contact the IRC's Planned Giving Team at +1 212 551 2954 or [email protected]