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On a Firm Foundation: “Hamilton” and Legacy


By Mary Quilici Aumack
Executive Director
The Catholic Community Foundation

Last week I had the great good fortune to be the guest of my friend Evye for a performance of “Hamilton” in San Francisco. In anticipation, I listened to the soundtrack at least 20 times, and fell in love with the music and the story. Sometimes, when anticipating such an event, the actual experience may disappoint. That most certainly was not the case. Both Evye and I were simply swept away in the music and the incredible narrative.

This show is a force on many levels. Central to its message is the “retelling” of the story of Alexander Hamilton. One of the great lines is “Who tells your story?” When you watch this show (and listen repeatedly as I have), you learn that “Hamilton” can be defined by many key attributes: passion, commitment, tenacity, courage, brilliance.

When someone “tells your story,” what words do you hope will be used? For my story, I think there are three categories: Extremely important: Faith, Family, Eucharist; Important: Connecting, Business Planning, Endowment, Execution. Just fun: Cooking, baking, and skiing. I would think there might be mention of the schools I attended, our parish, and the Foundation.

Legacy is not just about remembering. It is much more about continuing. Think of legacy as taking the most important parts of your “story” and giving them FOREVER VALUE.

Hamilton’s wife Eliza took up the task of both remembering and continuing. After Aaron Burr killed Hamilton in a duel, Eliza lived another 50 years. She worked to preserve his memory and further the causes in which he believed. She raised money for the Washington Monument. She advocated against slavery.

Where do we want our “continuing” to be evidenced? For Doug and me it’s through our Family Endowment with the Foundation.

We will designate a specific portion of our estate to fund our endowment. As of now there are five equal beneficiaries: St. Mary parish, The Foundation, Catholic Charities, Santa Clara University and Notre Dame High School. We have no idea how much money will be in the endowment – it depends on when we die. We do know that through this wonderful mechanism, each of the beneficiary organizations will receive an annual distribution – FOREVER.

If Alexander Hamilton had planned a family endowment, we could imagine what organizations may have been the beneficiaries. It is clear that he favored the abolition of slavery. Perhaps he would have directed his future giving to activism. He was deeply involved in the financial structuring of our country. Perhaps he would have designated the business program at a prestigious university. Just imagine…

However you choose to implement a legacy plan, I hope that you will consider including your parish or other ministry that you feel has been formative and important for you and your family. A permanent gift is a beautiful way to both be remembered and know that your support will be continued – FOREVER.

For more information regarding the Catholic Community Foundation, visit www.cfoscc.org, or call (408) 995-5219.