Answering the Call to Do Good Works: Sallie's Story

I think people who make planned gifts are driven to do so because of an empathetic response to the people and conditions around them. They know, regardless of the size of their gift, that it’s their last chance to leave the world a better place than they found it. And, in the case of people of faith, it’s also their special response to the Gospel message.

Earlier this year we helped someone create a very generous planned gift in the form of a $2,500,000 Donor Advised Fund. It is my personal privilege to tell you more about that special person: Sallie Greenfield.

I have known Sallie for years, but got to know her better these past few months. She is sophisticated, down to earth, very smart, and unassuming. She has a beautiful face that matches her personality. She loves shoes (a love that is beyond my comprehension). She also gives a great hug.

When I brought her the final version of the agreement to sign, I also took her some beautiful spring flowers as a gesture of gratitude and affection. She was thrilled; her smile lit up her house. Think for a moment: I brought her flowers, but she had written checks for almost $2.5 million. I couldn’t differentiate between the happiness she expressed over giving her gift and receiving the flowers.

Sallie is such an interesting person. She has season tickets to the Met in NYC and has been attending for years. She has met all the great voices and stays at the same boutique hotel. I would love to go with her, but people would talk – LOL. She has in her possession a book of poetry signed and dedicated to her by Robert Frost, given when she sat at his feet during a poetry reading at her college in 1954. And she used to raise steers! Yes, the ones with the big horns!

What I admire about Sallie is that she sees her faith as a verb. Something we share in common. She believes her faith, which is strong and vibrant, is a call to action.

I have long held close to my heart James’ statement: “Faith without good works is dead.” But, as I reflected on this passage, I concluded it was missing something; it has no “feeling”. Then a light went off and I turned to a document that finally settled one of primary causes for the Reformation – a joint declaration by the Lutherans and Catholics on the matter of Justification, which says “…By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to do good works…” Working and talking with Sallie, I saw these words come alive. It was an amazing convergence – maybe the Holy Spirit was at work?

This reflection has nothing to do with the size of Sallie’s gift, but the vastness of her faith in God, grace and the Call to do good works. Sallie is remarkable. I am honored to serve Sallie Lindsay Greenfield and to call her my friend.