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All in the Family

Every family has its own inherited treasures. For some, it can be the simplest of things: a glass vase, as filled with memories as it is with flowers, or it can be the weighty responsibility of carrying on a farming heritage or family business passed on through generations.

Father and son Al and Ted Douglass of Allentown have inherited many family treasures of their own but perhaps none more impactful than the spirit of philanthropy that’s so deeply rooted in their personal and professional values.

“I just remember my grandmother saying, ‘You get a dollar and you put some in savings and some you spend and some you put into the (offering) plate,’” says Ted.

Al and his wife, Jill (Raker Hudders) Douglass who is the granddaughter of Good Shepherd’s founders The Rev. John “Papa” and Estella “Mama” Raker, was also taught early on a lifelong lesson that’s motivated him to give back as a donor and volunteer at Good Shepherd and schools and organizations in the community.

“All my life, I was expected from my parents to give,” says Al. “If you were lucky enough to be able to help people out, you should. My father and grandfather sat on the board of the Allentown Orthopedic Hospital and later I served on the board of Lehigh Valley Health Network.”

The Douglass’s have long been benefactors to Good Shepherd and are well-known faces at many special events. One fund raiser in particular has historical resonance: the annual Conrad W. Raker Sporting Clays. Conrad served as administrator at Good Shepherd for four decades and learned to hunt from his father, Papa Raker. Papa grew up in a rural log cabin in Raker, Pa., and once hunted to help provide food for his family back in the late 1800s.

As a sportsman and competitive shooter, Conrad had great fondness for this event where participants test their mettle by shooting clay discs. He also had a deep love for Good Shepherd’s residents and proceeds from Sporting Clays once supported the community access fund which helped residents enjoy greater independence.

After Conrad’s death in 2002, the funds raised by Sporting Clays were designated to another passion of Conrad’s: education. Proceeds now support a fund benefiting ongoing educational opportunities for Good Shepherd employees.

Ted and Al, through The Douglass Group of financial advisors, part of the Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Group, have long supported Sporting Clays. This year is no exception with The Douglass Group stepping forward as presenting sponsors of the event.

Knowing the value of philanthropy in their professional lives as senior vice presidents and wealth management advisors, Ted and Al are well-versed in strategies to help others find ways to include philanthropy in their financial planning.

“The idea of charity differs with every client,” says Ted, “we use goal-based strategies to help bring clarity to people’s life priorities.”

Philanthropy becomes one of those priorities for those who want to make a meaningful and lasting difference in their communities.

“We’ve lived in an unusual time of tremendous wealth creation and people who have acquired wealth are thinking more about what that wealth can do for society,” says Al.

“And, it’s a desire to leave a legacy,” adds Ted.

The way in which generations give back is also changing, says Ted.

“A lot of people want to not only get monetarily involved, but also get involved personally with their time and you may see giving manifest itself differently,” says Ted. “For example, young people coming together for specific causes that are relevant to them or volunteering their time.”

That desire to be philanthropic extends to those who may not have vast wealth, but still place a high value on charitable giving. For many families, who have seen the cornerstones of their retirement erode – falling real estate values, precipitous losses in the stock market and the abolishment of corporate pension plans – the challenges of striking a balance between survival and saving are considerable.

“The retirement landscape is changing drastically,” says Ted, “and people are asking, ‘How can I fulfill my desire to give yet fulfill other priorities in my life?’ Families don’t always have a lot of resources to give. They’re trying to survive. We help them find clarity in that second phase of life that allows people to accomplish their philanthropic priorities.”