Volunteer’s Corner

Two Volunteers Plan Legacy Donations to Sunnyvale Community Services

Two very different women—one, a single business owner; the other a retired grandmother—share the same cause. Both have decided to leave a legacy donation to SCS in their wills, and are passionate about their choice.


Leslie Lawton

When Leslie Lawton moved to Sunnyvale in 1976, little did she know that her life would be immersed in the community, and her friends would become her extended family. One of her extended family groups, Sunnyvale Community Services, would become a recipient in her will.

As the owner of “We Produce,” Lawton offers transcription services to corporations such as Apple, HP, and many other high tech companies. And as a sole proprietor for the past 27 years, she first began her Sunnyvale connections in the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce where she eventually became a board member.

Through the Chamber, she learned about Sunnyvale Community Services during the late 1990s. After seeing the agency’s work, Leslie agreed to become a board member, where she served two terms. A few years later, she was asked back, and became “board again.” Today she is happily serving another term.

“Their mission attracts me,” Lawton adds. “Sunnyvale is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and we are a well off community. And yet, through SCS, you learn there are a lot of people who need help. I feel my mission is to be a voice to be educating people that we have a severe need here. In the valley there are extreme (economic) ups and downs, and yes there are people who cannot make house or apartment payments. They can come to SCS for emergency services, and that is very appealing to me.”

But not only does she serve on the board, she has worked the gamut of volunteer jobs: stacking groceries for the food pantry, filling backpacks with school supplies to give away to kids in need, helping clients during the holidays as they shop the SCS Christmas closet, assisting with the SCS volunteer auxiliary, decorating the center for events, and more.

Six years ago when she felt it was time to draft her will, Lawton was pondering who and what to leave her assets to when she passed away. As a single woman with no children, she felt strongly about giving back to the community that has become her home base for friendship and support.

“I feel strongly about giving back. I already had it in my heart and soul. What little bit I will have when I am gone, I want to leave to SCS. I find it very satisfying knowing I can do some small thing and leave a lasting legacy,” she says.


Lois Carroll

Meanwhile, fleeing for her life from her abusive husband, Lois Carroll never even heard of Sunnyvale until her friends showed her where it was on a map of the United States, and traced the way to get there from her hometown in Flint Michigan.

That was February 1981, and Carroll has lived, worked, and retired from the city she now calls home. Over the past five years, the former administrative assistant has been volunteering weekly at Sunnyvale Community Services. She recalls that on her first day of helping in the warehouse, I immediately fell in love with the people and the staff.

She also was impressed by the clients. “The people who came in were so grateful, and they were looking for a hand up, not a hand out.”

Today, the retiree has decided to leave a portion of her will and living trust’s proceeds to Sunnyvale Community Services. “Both of my grandmas told me that it is important to give of your time and talent. I was raised during my whole life to be able to give back. It can be a smile, a listening ear, a homemade cookie, a homemade dish of food, even dropping by to say hi to see someone. It can be restoring order from chaos.”

And she can attest that having a peaceful life after a chaotic one is a priceless commodity. Back in 1981, when she was 40, she recalls escaping in the middle of the night, saying goodbye to her parents for the last time, and jumping into her 1962 Buick with a little more than $1,000 to start her life over again.

On the long, arduous drive to Sunnyvale, people along the way paid her kindnesses she could never imagine. The garage owner who told her to sleep in his garage because it would be 50 degrees below zero that evening and she would not be able to survive in her car overnight. The various truck drivers who would instruct her to follow them on the roadways that would be treacherous and slick in the middle of winter. The president of a motorcycle parts wholesale company who gave her that first job when she rolled into town.

Last year when she drafted her will and living trust, she knew she wanted to pay back the community of Sunnyvale for the livelihood it has provided for her, and she wants others to benefit from her donation. She loves to tell folks, “every place should have a Sunnyvale Community Services center, and if there isn’t one in your community, you should start one. I would!”

How to Leave a Legacy to SCS

If you want to start planning now to leave a legacy gift to SCS, please contact us for a confidential discussion. Contact Marie Bernard at 408.738.0121 or email her at mbernard@svcommunityservices.org. Our non profit tax ID # 94-1713897.

Questions about volunteering?

Please contact:
Terry Chavez, Volunteer Manager
408.738.4321 ext. 211
tchavez@svcommunityservices.org

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