Mary Gayle Johnson: Investing in her hometown

When writing my will and thinking about beneficiaries, I considered organizations that I respect and admire for the good work they do to help build healthy community here in Spokane where I’ve lived most of my life. This is where my father was born, where my grandfather drove trolleys and where my great grandfather helped to build railroads. 

SNAP has a strong legacy here, too, and, as a volunteer with the agency, I’ve seen first-hand the way lives have changed and families have rebuilt foundations. In my small way, I imagined my planned gift to SNAP would carry on that legacy.

I know that SNAP will put my donation to good use when it comes their way. I feel good knowing that I will be able to help my less fortunate neighbors in some way when I eventually pass on.

One of the phrases I have learned as a SNAP volunteer is that the agency provides “a hand up not a handout.” I respect the fact that SNAP wants people to be more self-sufficient by providing the education and tools they need to provide for themselves. That said, there will always be the most vulnerable among us who need that safety net, and SNAP provides that too.

SNAP is an essential part of the support system in our community.  They really are a bridge out of poverty for many who don’t know where else to turn.

I am thankful for an organization like SNAP that helps my neighbors when they are in need.

Margaret Hinnenkamp: Leaving an impact

Margaret Hinnenkamp didn’t know much about SNAP before she met Cara Weipert. The two attended the same church and would talk after services over donuts and coffee.

At the time, Cara worked at SNAP Financial Access, helping small business owners with support like loans and counseling. Many who came through the office were starting their first business and SNAP was there to help. Cara remembers Margaret being impressed.

“I could tell she appreciated what we were doing, the whole idea of helping people achieve stability,” Cara recalls. “I let her know about other SNAP programs too and she was very positive about it.”

A native of Montana, Margaret worked in the Navy ship yards in Bremerton, Washington after graduating from high school in 1942. She moved to Spokane three years later and married, eventually starting a family in Colfax.

Margaret was in her late 70s when Cara met her. She donated to SNAP several times before passing away in 2014 at the age of 89. Her obituary noted that Margaret “gave generously to numerous charities over many years, quietly and with little fanfare.”

A few months after Margaret passed, SNAP was informed that she had left a gift of $300,000 to the agency, one of several substantial donations in her will toward local nonprofit causes. 

“I was stunned,” Cara said. “She never talked about money. She was just a sweet, caring person who wanted to help others.”

Eric Johnson: Helping others build a foundation

Many know Eric Johnson as a founding member of the Spokane Folklore Society. Others remember him as one of the catalysts in the development of a trio of community centers in the city of Spokane. While he was helping with the East Central Community Center, Eric got to know Larry Stuckart, longtime SNAP CEO. Prior to that, he learned of how the agency was providing pathways to stability for low-income residents.

Now retired, Eric wanted to leave a legacy that would make his community a stronger place. He thought of SNAP and decided to include the agency in his will. The gift? The Spokane home he has lived in for decades.

“I first learned of SNAP in the mid-1970s while working on developing the city community centers and was impressed with the scope of its efforts to help the less-fortunate get back on their feet,” Eric said. “SNAP’s work has only gotten broader since then. They can sell the house and apply the money to whatever is needed most helping people get back on their feet and be self-sufficient.”

Julie Honekamp: Being a good neighbor in perpetuity

Jonas Salk, medical researcher and inventor of the polio vaccine, once asked, “Are we being good ancestors?”

I believe the decision to include SNAP in an estate plan is one of the best investments a person can make in our community. It’s a gift that says, “I care about the future of my neighbors and want to make a real difference that enhances their lives.” It’s a proven way to be a good civic ancestor.

A few years ago, I made a commitment to include SNAP in my estate plan. I’ve called this area home for over 30 years and raised my kids here. I feel a connection to this community not only as a nonprofit leader but as a neighbor. I know what a dutiful steward SNAP is of donor dollars. I also know how contributed funds are critically deployed to meet the agency’s most pressing needs.

I take comfort knowing my future gift will be there to help when there is nowhere else to turn. It feels like adding my own special strands to a reassuring community safety net.