Schuyler (“Sky”) Sylvers of Ventura, California, feels fortunate that all of his grandparents came to the United States in the early 1900s. Growing up in Brooklyn, he recalls his parents mentioning the Holocaust but only infrequently. Linda, his wife of 40 years, who grew up in Miami and moved to California in the late 1960s, also considers herself blessed. She, too, lost no family members in the Holocaust.
Sky’s first real contact with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum came in 1991 when he and Linda visited its then-future site, which he described as “a hole in the ground.” Both he and Linda sensed this would be an important institution in their lives, and they began making regular membership gifts to the Museum before contributing a more significant gift in support of the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance.
And with the alarming rise in Holocaust denial and antisemitism, they began to have a greater appreciation of the Museum’s role in the world.
Their connection to the Museum deepened further in 2003 after they received information about the benefits of charitable gift annuities. Sky, a CPA, and Linda, an accountant, who together run a busy accounting firm, planned a trip to the Museum, where among other things they learned more about the benefits of a gift annuity. By donating to the Museum in this way, they would receive a current income-tax charitable deduction; steady income, a portion of which would be tax-free; and the comfort and satisfaction of knowing they would be supporting the Museum’s ongoing needs by ultimately funding its Endowment.
Following that visit Sky and Linda established their first gift annuity and became members of the Museum’s Legacy of Light Society. Over the years they have grown so enamored with the power and simplicity of this giving method that they have now established 21 Museum gift annuities—with still more planned for the future. They are thrilled to have the opportunity of utilizing this type of gift to make larger lifetime donations—on an ongoing basis—that would otherwise not have been possible.
The more they learn about the Museum’s global reach, the deeper their connection.
“Supporting the Museum helps give my life purpose and meaning—it’s probably the best feeling I have about anything,” Linda says. Sky likes that their annuities enable them to be smart about how they utilize their assets, providing ongoing payments that in turn allow them to provide yet more support to the Museum through the funding of additional annuities.
And their generosity does not end there. They have also included a bequest in their wills for the Museum’s Endowment, joining the Chairman’s Circle of the Legacy of Light Society, so that they can support the Museum in perpetuity at an even greater level.
When Sky and Linda are not busy with their accounting practice they love to travel. On a recent visit to the site of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, they were struck by how peaceful a setting it was and how that serenity belied the horrific events they knew had transpired there.
It also reminded them of the importance of never forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust and how timeless those lessons are for all humanity. It made them acutely aware that while establishing 21 charitable gift annuities with the Museum may seem like a lot, for them it is just the beginning.