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How Creative Giving Changes Lives... Including Your Own

“To whom much is given, much is expected.” Sheryl Maguire used this biblical adage recently to reflect on a life of comforts, many take for granted. It also summed up perfectly how she and her husband John ended up creating a new school for girls half a world away.  

The Maguires were among the many guests at our 502 Breakfast in January, the latest in a series of gatherings where our clients share insights and experiences from the world of retirement. Our theme was Creatively Giving, and we happily followed the Maguires’ passionate journey to personal satisfaction.

Complete Commitment

Ten years ago, the Maguires hosted a dinner party with friends. One guest, a priest from Kenya, shared his desire to build an all-girls school in his homeland—a place where education is undervalued, especially for girls. Moved by his determination, the Maguires and their friends brainstormed ways to help beyond just pooling their financial resources to cover the cost.  

In our office, we define “WEALTH” as the triad of Time, Talent and Treasure. This group tapped all three elements as they immersed themselves in the mission of constructing St. Anne’s Girls’ School in Kapkemich, Kenya.

But the school was just the first step.

Each victory gave rise to a new challenge. Soon the school needed a dormitory. Then a library. Then books for the library. It reminded me of my 5-year old daughter’s favorite book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. First comes the cookie. Then the milk, then the straw. You see where this is going, right?

As I listened to John and Sheryl tell their story, I realized how this circular pattern reflected their own lives. What started as a friendly fundraising campaign evolved into a new mindset. Rather than shopping for themselves at estate sales, they searched for items the girls could use at the school. Then they took charge of getting the items to the school, and so on.

A Remarkable Path

The journey had moments of levity. John told us about driving an overloaded moving truck full of used books to the airport, mud flaps sparking on the highway because of the weight. There was plenty of frustration as well—not surprising in an area with few paved roads but many semi-honest cargo handlers. Yet the Maguires’ unique passion for education drove them on.

Now they’re seeing the amazing results of their living room brainstorm and dedication:

  • St. Anne’s has enrolled 160 students
  • The school has laid the groundwork for a community medical clinic and self-sufficient market
  • Anna’s Oven restaurant in Kansas City gives a substantial portion of its profits to education, including St. Anne’s

Best of all, they’ve watched some of the first students go on to universities and professional careers.

Serving Others and Yourself

We believe the most fulfilling and powerful giving happens when you touch someone’s life directly. Psychologist Lisa Firestone says, “The more directly we see our personal efforts impact someone else, the more we gain from the experience of giving.”

So many of us have a desire to give, but life gets in the way. That’s why, when unexpected opportunities arise, we have to seize them. We need to listen to our passions and think creatively. Sheryl never thought she’d be learning how to write grants in her retirement. John never thought he’d be learning how to navigate international cargo delivery.

Of course, good financial stewardship is a cornerstone of giving. Proper saving and wise investing affords you both the time and treasures needed to make an impact with your talent—and that true talent may yet be discovered. 

We are so inspired by the clients who sit around our table. They are so generous with their stories of transformation, heartache, courage, reward and lessons learned. They keep us motivated to do more, to give creatively and to find our own path.

Greg Dillard

Greg is a co-founder of BridgeQuest Wealth Strategies and a Wealth Advisor. He strives to ensure that clients gain clarity and focus in the financial planning process. Clients appreciate his ability to distill down his in-depth analysis into an understandable game plan.