Eleanor Badalich: Expressing Philanthropy Through Time, Talents and Treasure
"We call Casa a retirement community, but I find that I'm as busy now as when I ran my own home," said Eleanor Badalich, an eight-year resident of Casa San Carlo Retirement Community in Northlake. "The difference here is that I only have to do the things that give me real pleasure!"
Eleanor Badalich was born 86 years ago to Yugoslavian parents and grew up in the Belmont Central neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. Not interested in being a teacher or a nurse, she attended business college and devoted her entire career to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, retiring as an office manager at age 59 ½. She is grateful for Met Life's saving and investment programs. "I got in the habit of putting away a little at a time," she said.
"Eleanor's approach to philanthropy reflects her lifelong career as a businesswoman," noted Pat McKinlay, Director, Gift Planning Services. "She is very thoughtful about giving. The first time we met, she was sorting through a two-inch stack of requests for contributions, evaluating the merits of each. About half ended up on her 'yes' list. She is generous, but also deliberate about gift decisions."
For example, after her brother, Frank, passed away, Eleanor saw the tax bite his estate took. She resolved to avoid a similar problem with her own estate by planning for 50 percent of her assets to go to charity.
She is also an avid fan of Charitable Gift Annuities. She created CGAs for several of her favorite causes. Eleanor knows that CGAs not only provide substantial benefit for selected charities, but "offer a significant tax deduction, give you a guaranteed lifetime income at a great interest rate, and allow an additional tax deduction on most of that income."
As a savvy businesswoman, Eleanor would like to see more women learn the value, as well as the satisfaction, of financial planning and philanthropy. "I am amazed how many women don't know anything about finances," she said. "It keeps your mind more alert when you're involved in your own financial planning, just as reading does."
Eleanor often expresses her philanthropy through the use of her time and talents. For example, she is an avid reader. One of the first things she discovered after moving into Casa San Carlo was a lack of large-print books and magazines available to residents like her with declining vision.
As a book lover, she took matters into her own hands. She bought the first 12 books, the start of a collection she circulated from her apartment until she found a large empty closet at the facility.
Gradually, thanks to donations of large-print books from residents and local libraries, as well as more of her own purchases, she moved the growing library of nearly 400 books into bookcases and purchased glass doors to keep the collection secure.
Not only did the number if books increase, but so did the clientele. With a simple card catalog system, Eleanor opens this private library to all residents each Saturday morning for two hours. To date, more than 2,000 books have been checked out. Any issues with overdue books? "If you're ever late, you pay," she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Her involvement at Casa San Carlo didn't end there. Eleanor pursued another of her passions when she joined the Garden Club. Before long, she was President of the Club, which she has served for six years.
"The first meeting I attended here was the Garden Club," she said. "I did not like the way the garden by the greenhouse looked." Now she is rightfully proud to show visitors "Steffy's spectacular rose garden" and numerous large planters along the patio, each brimming with begonias and coleus planted by members of the Garden Club.
In addition, there is a vegetable garden in the back with each plot assigned to a resident who can grow his fill of tomatoes, basil, squash and eggplant. Outside the greenhouse is a water fountain, placed there in memory of Eleanor's brother, who resided with her at Casa until his death in 2001.
Every resident at Casa San Carlo benefits from Eleanor's philanthropy. As if she were still living in her old home, her philanthropic spirit has made her new one a haven for all her neighbors.
A charitable gift annuity is a fast and simple way to make a gift today and still enjoy a lifetime income. For more information, contact Moira McGinley, Presence Health Foundation Office of Gift Planning Services, at 312-308-3244.