John Hall, Legacy Society Member
In the course of my 21 years as Minister of First Church, I had many opportunities to meet people who were struggling, vulnerable, or who were looking for a way to belong in the wider community. In some cases, these individuals came to church on a Sunday morning. In other cases, I met them out in the community or on the streets. Invariably, they were warm, compassionate, appreciative of our interaction (as I was) and willing to help in any way they could. I hired one young man to shovel snow from the front steps of the church. Another man soon became proud of his role in making the Sunday morning coffee. A woman became a regular usher.
What the majority of these individuals had in common—I came to learn—was that they were being cared for by Gilead Community Services. Their personal struggles were due to various health problems or disabilities. I often had the occasion to reflect, and reflect again, that without the care of Gilead, their lives would have been far more difficult, or broken, or cut short. They would have been in hospitals, jails, homeless, malnourished, or in some other tragic situation.
I became familiar with the inner workings of Gilead when my friendship with one Gilead client deepened. (He had been the snow shoveler.) Through him, I came to know many of the Gilead staff who watched out for him and others in the group home. I have attended treatment team meetings, taken my friend on weekly outings (before the pandemic) to walk with our dogs, and through such activities had many interactions with the staff. In short, I’ve seen up close how the staff care deeply about the clients they serve. They prepare special holiday meals. They run errands on their way to and from work. They help the clients use the internet, drive them long distances to attend family funerals or visit the gravesites of their deceased loved ones. They go on picnics, to the movies, on walks, shopping, or to medical appointments. They sit for hours in emergency rooms and accompany the clients in all sorts of ways, often in stressful situations. They become the families of the clients, since in many cases the clients have no other family to be present in these ways.
When it came time for me to update my estate plans, I wanted to leave a significant bequest to Gilead. But first, I asked the Gilead administrators about their policies for the use of invested funds and about the discipline and prudence of Gilead’s financial management. I was very impressed both with the nature of these financial policies and the willingness of Dan Osbourne to share details of their financial condition and management policies. Indeed, he was eager to do so.
And of course, I have witnessed for many years how Lucy McMillan so effectively builds and strengthens the bridge between the clients whom Gilead cares for and the surrounding community. Lucy knows the clients by name, she knows their particular struggles and how to involve them in community events for the well-being of all.
If you are reading this, you undoubtedly have your own awareness of what I’m describing. Our observations reflect positively not only on the current leaders of Gilead, but on the traditions they have established—all of which assures me that Gilead will remain in good hands, with compassion at the heart of its work, for decades to come.
So, I will continue to support Gilead while I’m alive. And after I die, my intention is that Gilead will receive a significant amount of my life’s savings that will help Gilead’s life-saving work endure. It’s something I’m honored and privileged, to do. I urge others to consider making a similar commitment. Your own life will be richer when you do.