Anna Huttner was deeply inspired by the commitment her mother and grandmother both showed to the Jewish communities in which they lived and worked. However, as young parents building a life for their children, the best way for Anna and her husband, Seth, to make a long-lasting gift was unclear — until they learned about the flexibility of the Life & Legacy Program, which is administered locally by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. By arranging a legacy gift that could grow over time, Anna and Seth were able to honor her grandmother’s memory, support the community they love, and still have the financial flexibility needed for life's unforeseen moments. Below, Anna discusses why a planned gift was right for them, and how a love for generations past and present drove their decision.
Anna and Seth are graduates of Jewish Leadership Academy's Frank Stavis Leadership Program. Anna is a current board member of Voices of Hope, an organization she co-founded with Kathy Fishman. Prior to her work with Voices of Hope, she served as project manager at JFACT. Anna holds a master's degree in education and worked previously at Jewish day schools in both Washington, D.C. and West Hartford. She is also a co-founder of Women's Philanthropy's Pearl Society, sits on the board of directors for JTConnect, and is an active participant on several community committees. She lives in West Hartford with her husband and their two children.
What inspired you and your husband to consider a planned gift?
Recently, [Women's Philanthropy Chair] Jill Dulitsky made a comment in one of our Federation cabinet meetings that reminded me how important philanthropy was to my grandmother — and that her generosity of time and money helped give us the community we enjoy now. Her generation's dedication gave all of us the thriving Jewish community that we have today. Likewise, Seth and I feel the best gift we could pass on to our kids is to ensure that this incredible community is there for them when they're adults.
It sounds like honoring your grandmother was a considerable motivator in wanting to give back.
That word, “honor,” is really important. I was very close to my grandmother, who passed away a couple years ago. She very much wanted her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in a place that supported Jews — not just in a religious way, but in a human way. To that end, philanthropy was close to her heart, and that's a value she gave to my mother, who was also very involved. The gift we've made is in honor of their shared commitment to the community.
Why was the Jewish Community Foundation's Life & Legacy Program the right way to give for you?
To be honest, part of it was just asking, “Why not?” Making a gift in our will felt doable. Our planned gift is more than we'd be able to give today, and we feel comfortable pledging what we did for after we pass on — hopefully many years from now! I can see us adding to that gift at some point down the road, but we wanted to make an initial pledge that would benefit the organizations we care about and would still leave enough for our kids.
Part of the appeal of the Life & Legacy Program is that you can choose multiple local organizations to which you want to give. Why did you choose Federation as a recipient?
I have a wonderful picture of my grandma and me at a Federation event — she's wearing her Lion of Judah pin and I'm wearing my Pomegranate Society pin. She was very involved in Federation in Milwaukee, and my mom was involved in New Haven and Albuquerque. So, I definitely feel a connection through them and their work. But also, I see Federation as the community assembler; it keeps everyone strong. When one of the local organizations faces a challenge, it is Federation that ensures its stability. They are like Atlas holding up the Jewish community. It may not always be so obvious where your dollars are going, but it's absolutely true that a gift to Federation helps keep our community thriving — and if we don't support it, it may not be here in 30 years. So, giving to Federation was a top priority.
But you were able to give to several organizations, thanks to the Foundation's Life & Legacy Program, correct?
We did. Obviously, Voices of Hope is extremely important to me because of their work and my history with it. The fact that it's a legacy gift opened us to the idea of giving to more than one organization; we felt we should show support now to the organizations that are important to us, even if the impact will be felt later.
How does your planned gift reflect what it means to you to be Jewish?
For me, being Jewish is about community and the connections we make with others. Being able to send our kids to a camp where everyone is Jewish, for example. What's most important to me is that my husband and I can give our kids the gift of being able to live in a strong, Jewish community. That's more valuable than any amount of money we could leave them. But that won't happen if my generation doesn't give and if we don't start considering options like legacy gifts and understanding the long-term value. I also want my kids to be proud of being Jewish, proud of the gift we've made, and understand that community doesn't just appear. You have to support it.
What would you say to other young people for whom planned giving may not yet be on their radar?
It really is the best gift you can give to your children, to their children, and to generations beyond. I am proud to be a part of this initiative and to help ensure a thriving local Jewish community in Greater Hartford.
Life & Legacy is a creative, multi-organization giving program operated locally by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. To discuss whether a legacy gift to Federation might be right for you and your family, please email Hayley Wasser, Federation’s vice president of development.
Photo: Anna Huttner with her grandmother, Elaine Friedman, of blessed memory. Image courtesy of Anna Huttner.