Rohlenas at Legacy Society EventMarv and Bonnie are new members to the NCSML’s Legacy Society. Members of the Legacy Society are those who have included the NCSML in their planned giving or estate plans. I had the pleasure of meeting Marv and Bonnie at their home and learning more about their personal history, involvement with celebrating Czech culture, and years of volunteer service to the NCSML. This provided a glimpse into what love of culture and heritage looks like, as well as how planned giving has appeal for philanthropic decisions.

Their stories are familiar to me – a hard-working couple who made a career and life out of farming.  Their particulars are their own, but I heard in their voices, in their stories and in their questions many similarities to conversations that I have had with donors around the country. In the beginning, they rented land to begin their farming business. From that start, a successful business built on many Czech characteristics was established.  Along the way, they served various Czech-related organizations, too. Their children reflect, too, the quality of service, commitment to hard work, dedication to serving others, and an appreciation (and talent) for agribusiness.

Marv is a collector of farm equipment, and I look forward to seeing his collection on a future visit. It is a gift to be welcomed into the lives and interests of those who comprise the NCSML extended family.

As we chatted, we shared our mutual concerns about who will continue collecting and telling the stories and celebrating Czech and Slovak culture.  Concerns for the future – things like, “Who will tell these stories after we are gone?” – are usually central to planned giving decisions, and such is the case for Bonnie and Marv.

A couple of days later, the couple attended their first Legacy Society Brunch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening as long-time and newly found friends shared stories about their upbringing, work, adventures and mutual connections. The room was full of members who shared their concerns about preserving in perpetuity the mission of the NCSML. These Legacy Society members epitomize the NCSML vision that includes “…connects yesterday with today and tomorrow.”

For more information about planned giving, please feel free to contact me at

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