Teaching Philanthropic Values to Our Children

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Pete and Ericka Bigelow with their three children, Jack, Collin, and Eliza.

Even though they are only in their early 30s, Ericka and Pete Bigelow have already created their wills and now have peace of mind knowing that their three young children are taken care of. Being in the world of fundraising herself, Ericka decided to also include a provision creating a scholarship fund benefitting the theater program at Colorado State University.

"I'm very aware of the importance of philanthropy for higher education in order to compensate for less and less state funding," says Ericka. "When I was at CSU, I received a couple of different scholarship awards. I graduated feeling so special that someone thought I was worthy of those awards. It was a real game-changer for me when I look back at my experience, and I'm really grateful for it."

"I think a lot of people feel they can't afford to give back. They are busy saving for their own children's educations, let alone someone else's, but I know I can give $10,000 to start a scholarship through a provision in our will, and then I have given back, even if it's posthumously."

Now the parents of three children, Eliza, and twins Jack and Collin, Ericka and Pete are not only planning for their own family's future, but also for the things they are passionate about and would like to financially support.

"As a mom, I have to plan now. I hope my kids will learn from the plans set forth in my and my husband's wills and, like my mother, I will instill philanthropic values in my children by walking them through museums and explaining that none of it would be possible if it weren't for someone's donation'" says Ericka.

"It's never too early to plan. If you don't make a plan, there can be confusion about your intentions. Having a will provides you with the opportunity to document your wishes as to how you would like to make a difference. Whether it's now, or at some point down the road, at least you know your intentions will be carried out."

Ericka's scholarship to the theater department is in honor of her mentor, CSU theater Professor Morris Burns. Ericka says, "He had these hilarious sayings, and I loved being in his presence. The theater department opened up something in me that I didn't even know existed. Today, I do a lot of presenting and have to talk to people who are involved with the arts on every level. Everything I did in the theater department prepared me for what I am today."

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