Couple Extend Generosity Through Planned Giving


You can't help but feel the enthusiasm exuding from Craig and Debbie Mrkvicka. Their warmth and easy conversation come naturally. That zeal extends to a genuine caring for others who might need a helping hand. And now, thanks to some thoughtful planning, the Cedar Rapids couple has fulfilled their future wishes to provide for scholarships and family activity support indefinitely.


Last spring, the Mrkvickas began thinking about putting things in order. Both had experienced the hardship of sorting things out after their fathers' deaths. They wanted to spare family members any agonizing over settling their affairs once they are gone. They worked with their financial planner and attorney; they settled their wills, became registered organ and tissue donors, deeded their bodies to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for research, and specified who should receive any of their remaining personal belongings.


"We know how fast things can happen," Craig said. "Once we got started on planning, we were also looking at what would help the community's quality of life."


They agreed to dedicate their future estate to funding nontraditional student scholarships, along with community environmental and family programs. A set percentage will go to each of the institutions that are important to this Cedar Rapids couple.


Their choices reflect the difference education made for them. Each is the first in their family to achieve a college degree. Craig received his MBA from St. Ambrose University; both he and Debbie received degrees from Mount Mercy College, Craig in Computer Science (Mathematics) and Debbie in English (Creative Writing).  Both accomplished these achievements as non-traditional students while working full-time. Craig also received both a one-year diploma and two-year Associate of Applied Science degree from Kirkwood Community College prior to entering his work career.  Both loved school and credit it with changing their lives and advancing their careers. Today, Craig has been involved in various roles in electrical engineering at Rockwell Collins for over 29 years; Debbie is a grant development officer and project specialist at Kirkwood's resource development office.


"The education component is important to both of us," explained Debbie. "We wanted to be able to help with that, and we love this community. It's where we both were born and raised."


Craig and Debbie met later in life, marrying in 1997. While they have no children of their own, their family ties are strong and close. Their parents are - and were - powerful influences.


"We're doing this for them too, to honor our parents," said Debbie. "We're so grateful for how we've been blessed. And it's important to be able to help others. It's a chance to make someone's life a little better."


Several people steered them to the GCRCF, and they knew of its solid reputation for supporting community programs and families.


"The Community Foundation was the best place that could reach family-directed programs," Craig said. "We basically decided to divide things up and provide for a planned gift to those organizations that mean the most to us, and can best help our community. Our goal is to promote higher education and provide opportunities for positive family time."


Their gift to the GCRCF creates a new "field of interest" fund that will support family-oriented events that involve kids, promote family time, and may have an added educational or cultural benefit.  A grants committee of the Community Foundation will be responsible for recommending grants consistent with Craig and Debbie's intent.


Both are relieved and pleased to have settled the terms of their final gift.


"It's a calming feeling because you know it can make such a difference," Debbie said.


Added Craig, "It really gives you a sense of peace."

by Sherry Crawford