Life-changing circumstances can bring delight and sorrow, sometimes they create a mixture of both. However, when they arrive, almost always without warning, we have little choice but to acquiesce. When Brad Snyder was in his 20s, he learned he had retinitis pigmentosa a rare, incurable eye disease that caused vision impairment. He was suddenly at a crossroads he did not anticipate. He had to transition his career and think about how he would learn to accommodate this change in the long run.
While at a course at the Center for Computer Assistance for the Disabled, he was approached to join the staff. His decision to join them completely changed his career trajectory. Almost overnight he had become personally and professionally aware of the great need for resources for blind and visually impaired individuals. That awareness led him to a career in technology training.
As his professional life transformed to focus on assisting others, his parents were setting up a family foundation that would support life-changing organizations also focused on assisting others. It spurred generosity and family conversations about what organizations to support, even though his parents never had a full vision for its purpose.
“I learned to care about others from my parents and their example,” Brad shared. “When they started the family foundation, we would give to 12-step programs that my mom believed were making a difference and we would support retina organizations because my dad was an eye doctor. Participating in the foundation with them helped me to think in more expansive ways about philanthropy.”
After their passing, Brad and his siblings decided they could do more by dissolving the family foundation and creating individual Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). Even though their parents’ idea was generous and thoughtful, smaller family foundations incur legal costs that DAFs do not. When he started looking for an organization that could manage his DAF, he was not impressed by the approach offered by the corporate sponsors he considered. Since they were members of Lovers Lane UMC in Dallas, his wife suggested he consider an organization with Methodist roots similar to the Jewish Federation of Dallas and that is how he discovered TMF.
Not only was TMF a Methodist organization that supported the mission of the church, it could assist him with his personal philanthropy goals. After many conversations with the VP of Foundation Relations Justin Gould, Brad decided to move forward with TMF. “My wife and I really appreciated that we could create a Donor Advised Fund that gave us the flexibility we wanted to support organizations that are important to us now, and when we die, the remainder will be left to TMF which supports the church at large,” Brad noted.
One of the organizations that is near and dear to the Snyders is the Essilor Vision Foundation that provides clinics, exams, and glasses to lower income children. Through their mobile clinics at schools, they help ensure children who might be having trouble seeing at school have the tools they need to thrive by eliminating barriers of access and affordability.
In addition to supporting the Essilor Vision Foundation through their DAF, the Snyders are using it to support their church. “We really like the mission of Lovers Lane and its history of inclusiveness. In its earliest days, the church welcomed people who suffered from alcoholism and their families. At the time that was very unusual, but it is just an indication that the church has always been at the forefront of welcoming people and we want to support that mission,” Brad shared.
Through the DAF the Snyders will do just that, support the mission of their church and further the work of the Essilor Vision Foundation. Moreover, Brad will continue to live out the example of generosity his parents set for him, leveraging his experience with the life-changing circumstances of vision impairment to change the lives of children who have vision needs of their own.