By Callie Ewing, BA ’03 MH ’22
Widowed at age 30, Joy (Davis) Kirsch, BA ’85, didn’t really know how to move forward. She was already a financial planner and had worked with many widows, but she had no clue what it was like to go through such a traumatic event. This experience led her to realize that financial planning was more than a technical business – it was also a very personal one. Through her own experience, she was motivated to change her professional focus to other clients who were going through life-changing events, specifically widows.
Eventually widows became her vocation as well as her avocation. “The time I had to spend with a widowed client was not enough to do her justice – there was no time to focus on her ‘what’s next.’ So I started a nonprofit called The Widow’s Journey to bring widows together to move through this period of their lives – to gain a new sense of purpose and identify what was important to them so they could move forward with confidence. That's been an incredible experience for me, to be able to give back and also get back – because you always receive so much more than you give. I’ve been privileged to walk this path with many amazing women and help them live their best lives.”
A similar motivation to help others live their best lives led Kirsch to the decision to include UD in her estate plan, making her a member of UD’s Legacy Society, which recognizes the generosity and foresight of those who are securing UD’s future through planned gifts.
“I am certainly a product of scholarship and grants – so the idea that my legacy gift could help someone else get a UD education is very exciting,” she said. “My UD education taught me to value truth and virtue, to be willing to research facts and be an independent thinker – and to stand up for the truth and what’s right. That’s a huge gift that I hope to pay forward to other students.”
Another great gift that Kirsch cherishes are the lifelong friends she made at UD, several of whom
she makes a point to see regularly. Members of Kirsch’s class, the Class of 1985, established the Class of 1985 Endowed Scholarship last year, to which she contributed. “My class is so awesome,” said Kirsch. “Any challenge, they just step up and reach it. A lot of people don’t think about planned giving or legacy giving because they’re still young and have commitments, but actually it’s a way to say, ‘At the end of my life, this can happen.’ In other words, legacy giving allows you to commit without putting your current financial security in jeopardy.
“You have to do it today, because we don’t know how much time we’re given,” emphasized Kirsch. “What a great opportunity we have by planning in this manner, not taking away from our own living needs, but giving from our excess – there’s no downside.”
She added, “I like to think that the way we spend our money is how our souls flow into the world – this gift is an opportunity to spend in alignment with my values and what’s important to me. It’s an expression of gratitude for all the blessings I’ve had.”
If you have already included UD in your estate plans and are interested in joining the Legacy Society, please contact Veronica Moreno at 972-265-5846 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about planned giving options, please visit plannedgiving.udallas.edu.
In the photo: Members of the Class of 1985 Lori Finn Lee, Jean Zufall Organ, Bridget Grover Echerd, Joy Davis Kirsch and Gina Bonanno Morrison at a recent get-together.