Wilder Donors John and Anne Bendt Use Planned Gift to Extend their Love of Family and Community
John and Anne Bendt discovered small and large things in common when they met as college students at Marquette University. They were born on the seventh day of the month. They were the second oldest, and they valued the lessons they learned growing up in large families.
Later in life, the Long Lake, Minn., couple’s shared family values led them to create a planned gift at Wilder that will establish The Anne & John Bendt Fund To Hurdle Barriers To Success. The endowment will support services for young people who face challenges to realizing their potential.
To the Bendts, supporting Wilder’s work is a way to share their love for family, community and service with others in the community. “Wilder exemplifies those values,” Anne says.
Childhood Experiences Lead to Commitment to Family and Service to Others
Anne grew up in Stevens Point, Wis., one of eight siblings. Her father was a banker who valued his community. “They raised us with really solid family values,” Anne said. “They opened doors for us to try new challenges.” John grew up in Port Washington, Wis., one of seven siblings. His mother worked as a nurse, and both his parents sacrificed to make sure their children had what they needed to succeed. “I think you learn a lot, being raised in a large family,” he says. “You learn how to pitch in.”
After John and Anne married, John worked in marketing and sales management. Anne paused her career as a physical therapist to raise four children, whom she and John raised with the same values that they had learned: hard work, the importance of God and family, and an awareness of others.
“It’s important to think beyond yourself,” John says. “Everything doesn’t revolve around you.” When John retired seven years ago, he began volunteering at Ascension Catholic School and the Flaherty Family Foundation to help middle school and high school students prepare for careers. After Anne’s retirement, she became a member of the Struthers’ Parkinson Center Community Advisory Board, working on fundraising and outcome data. She volunteers weekly at Ascension After School program with fifth graders, and has returned to watercolor, a longtime love.
Wilder Services Align with Bendts’ Values
When the Bendts’ financial planner discussed tools for charitable donations, the couple thought of Wilder. They already knew about Wilder’s work because retired CEO and president Tom Kingston is Anne’s brother. They felt that Wilder was fiscally well run, and they liked the mix of Wilder’s work, which includes housing, early childhood education and mental health, along with community leadership programs and nationally recognized research.
Both also liked Wilder’s approach. “You could go to any part of (Wilder),” John says. “Those services are all designed to help kids find their strength, empower them to move forward.”
Anne, who describes Wilder as a “community of diversity,” has been particularly inspired by how Wilder works with families. “It’s just wrapped up in being what a family is,” she says.