What’s Your Passion?
Why Personal Experience Matters in Charitable Giving
By Catholic Futures Foundation Office
December 3, 2020
Have you ever wondered why someone gives to an organization, what drives him or her? Did someone ask her? Did the organization personally impact his life? We recently interviewed Patty and Paul Mendlik about their decision to create an endowment in the Catholic Futures Foundation that funds a cause they care deeply for: Catholic education.
First, Paul has been involved with the Foundation for nearly three decades, giving him an intimate understanding of the expertise and experience that’s present at every level of the organization. But more importantly, Catholic education has shaped Patty and Paul’s lives. Beginning in childhood, where they both attended Catholic schools in their hometowns in rural Iowa and Nebraska and continuing with their children’s education at St. Pius X/St. Leo School and Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. Their passion comes from their experience. Their lives and their children’s lives are forever transformed for the better. That transformative experience compelled them to provide for future generations by endowing a scholarship fund for students at Skutt Catholic High School. Here’s their story:
When Patty and Paul Mendlik look back on the things that have guided their decisions throughout their lives, they point first to their upbringing and education in their rural Nebraska and Iowa communities. Raised in Storm Lake, Iowa, Patty attended St. Mary Grade School and High School and Paul attended St. Wenceslaus Grade School and Dodge High School in his hometown of Dodge, Nebraska. Their shared Catholic faith is the common denominator that continues to guide them.
As they raised their three children, Jacque, Krista and Ryan, they volunteered and took leadership positions at their children’s schools – St. Pius X/St. Leo School and Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. “We have always been strong believers in Catholic education from day one,” said Patty. “We’re proud of how our children have gone on after their education in Catholic schools, and we feel like it has been a great thing that they could be well-rounded in their education as well as having Christ in their life on a daily basis.”
The couple has devoted countless hours to the Archdiocese of Omaha as well. Together they chaired the 2007 Archbishop’s Dinner for Education spearheading the creation of an endowment for an Administrator of the Year award funded by past dinner chairs. Through their efforts, more than $100,000 was raised to provide a $5,000 grant each year to the award winner.
Paul serves on the Catholic Futures Foundation of Northeast Nebraska (formerly the Omaha Archdiocesan Educational Foundation/Parish Foundation) Board of Trustees and is its current president. Through his decades-long work on the Foundation, Paul sees how vital its job is to the future of Catholic education and parish vitality. “I’ve been involved with the Foundation for over 25 years. I can attest to the strength of the leadership that exists within the Foundation. The strength of the management team and the oversight that exists over the money that’s in the Foundation is top-notch. It’s wonderful,” Paul said.
Two of Paul’s greatest role models were his parents, Norman and Verena Mendlik. In 2015, not long after his wife’s death, Norman fulfilled the intentions of the couple by establishing The Norman and Verena Mendlik Endowment Fund to help children in their hometown of Dodge attend Catholic school. When they discussed where the donor-named fund should be facilitated, Paul said the Catholic Futures Foundation (the OAEF at the time) was “the best place because it provided for ongoing professional management.”
Like his parents, Patty and Paul also made a tangible commitment to the future of Catholic schools. In 2014 they created the Paul and Patricia Mendlik Family Scholarship Endowment Fund to benefit students at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. The donor-named fund is held with the Catholic Futures Foundation.
As Catholic education’s cost continues to rise, Paul said it is becoming harder for families to afford. “We are hoping that we can help bridge the gap a bit for some parents. By establishing a fund that provides a scholarship each year, it might make a difference for one more student to receive a Catholic education.” Since its inception, the Mendliks have added to their fund and plan to continue to in the future.
“There’s a saying – the children are our future. We just want to be a small part of some of these kids’ lives and help them have a great education like we did through Catholic schools,” said Patty. “The things we are doing today are aimed at providing for the future of Catholic education.”
To transform lives far into the future, the Mendliks also remembered the Catholic Futures Foundation in their estate plans through a bequest that will ultimately benefit specific Catholic schools and organizations. Upon learning of their planned giving intentions, the archdiocese invited Paul and Patty to join the Living Legacy Circle, a recognition society for individuals and families who include the Catholic Church in their estate plans.
Even after his passing, Paul’s father continues to influence his priorities. “My dad was in the life insurance business. The motto that he lived by was, save and have. I think save and have is really what the Foundation and gifts of this type are about,” said Paul. “I’m a firm believer in saving for the future partly because of the financial growth that happens from an investment in a foundation, but also for the future benefits that it brings to so many people.”
“If you make a gift, you want to have comfort and trust in who is going to manage that money and who is going to make sure your wishes are fulfilled in the future. And the Catholic Futures Foundation is built for that,” said Paul.
What’s your passion? What organizations or causes make a difference in your life? If you are interested in exploring these questions, we would love to discuss how the Catholic Futures Foundation can help you transform lives.