The letter, which has guided Fred M. Bering's life, was written on plain white paper. His father's flowing German script described what was expected of young Frederick as he began his fifteenth year.
It was 1936. Stuttgart. Two years later, Bering fled Germany for America, carrying $9 and his father's letter.
"My parents knew they couldn't leave", he recalls. "A lot of the Jewish parents were sending their children away. They had to. My mother still got out in '41 with a handbag and nothing else. My father didn't make it."
Bering found a job as stock boy in a corset factory in Queens. In 1948, he met his wife, Irmi Ann, and they eventually moved to Connecticut. It wasn't until two years ago, after Irmi Ann passed away, that he again found the letter from his father.
If you should find yourself in a position where you have more than you need for yourself, think of those who are less fortunate, the letter read.
"When you're 15 years old, you don't pay much attention to what your father tells you. You think you know more. Yet basically he predicted the life I would live," Bering says.
In 1997, Bering had a triple bypass heart surgery performed by Dr. John A. Elefteriades at YNHH. During the surgery, he developed a connection to the staff. So when Bering sold his house last year, he decided to give some of the money to support the work of Elefteriades, who now runs the Center for Aortic Aneurysms at the hospital. But he also needed to set aside funds for living expenses. A charitable gift annuity proved the ideal choice.
"It's really a win-win," says John W. Dixon, director of planned giving for YNHH. "The donor can make a charitable contribution to the hospital in exchange for an income stream for life, and an income tax deduction the year that the gift is made."
The benefits are dramatic. Bering gave $300,000, and last year received a $163,000 tax deduction. Because he is 86, he will receive a 9.9 percent payout on the gift for the rest of his life. He receives $29,700 a year from YNHH, a good portion of which is tax free.
Although the rate is higher for older donors, the rates are favorable even for donors aged 50 and over (see page 14). And the annuity increases significantly when donors defer payments, making such gifts an ideal way to supplement retirement income. And they also have long-term value to the hospital.
"It's a very good way to help others and to help yourself," Bering says. "To me, it's a very obvious thing to do."