Generosity in Action

Giving Back Today & Tomorrow

When Julie Haff used to stop by Johnnie’s Super Market in Boulder Creek on her way home from work, her daughter would often sigh and say, “You stay here Mom, I’ll go in to get what we need.” According to her, the problem was that Julie knew everyone and invariably there would be spontaneous parent-teacher conferences in the cereal aisle.

“That’s the wonderful thing about the San Lorenzo Valley,” says Julie. “Everyone knows everyone. It’s such a tightly knit community,” but especially so if you are an educator. Julie started teaching in the valley in 1978 and then became the principal of Boulder Creek Elementary, a district office administrator, and finally served as superintendent from 2002 to 2014. “It’s a small district, so I felt like I knew something about every child. It’s been a joy to watch generations of children grow up. Sometimes adults who I knew as children will come up to me and say, ‘do you remember me?’ I love that!”

Julie’s love for this community runs deep. “My husband Larry and I really care about Santa Cruz County. We’ve lived here most of our adult lives. Giving back to the community that has given us so much feels incredibly important to us.”

Julie (on right) with Linda Fawcett, a past Board member of the Community Foundation.

Community Connections

Back during the floods of 1982, when Julie was a teacher, she met Mary Hammer, a pillar of the San Lorenzo Valley community. “Mary was out there collecting jackets and food for people that lost their homes. And, since the schools were closed, I started helping in whatever way I could.”

Over the years, Julie stayed connected to Mary and their good friend, Linda Fawcett, another community activist who also served on the Board of the Community Foundation. As soon as she retired from the school district, Mary and Linda convinced Julie to get connected with the Community Foundation. Julie joined the Board of Directors in 2015 and has served as President since 2022. “I was ready to retire,” Julie laughs, “but I wasn’t ready to stop giving back.”

Julie and her husband Larry enjoying retirement on a recent trip to Yosemite.

Planning for the Future

After a death in her husband’s family, Julie watched the executor of the will try to figure things out. “It wasn’t simple, and it was stressful for everyone. Larry and I looked at each other and knew we needed a plan.”

Wanting to save their children from the heartache of a confusing will during difficult times, Julie and Larry went to an estate planning attorney. “We sort of scoffed at first since we don’t have an ‘estate’ per se. I mean, we were both educators. But getting our ‘affairs’ in order felt like lifting a huge burden off our shoulders and it really wasn’t hard.”

The best part of the process, Julie says, was figuring out how they wanted to give back to the community, and to do so, she and Larry decided to make a Memorandum of Charitable Intent (MOCI) with the Community Foundation. The MOCI is a simple document that the Community Foundation uses to help donors create and direct gifts through their will or trust.

“Of course, I’d heard about the MOCI through my work on the Board, but I didn’t realize how easy setting one up really is,” says Julie. “Our trust simply names the Community Foundation as the beneficiary of our charitable gifts and then the MOCI instructs the Foundation how to distribute the gift to the nonprofit organizations of our choice. The executor of the trust only needs to write one check and it simplifies everything for them.”

A rainy day with family at one of Julie & Larry's favorite places in Santa Cruz County.

Caring for the Community They Love

While Julie and Larry know the causes they care most about—the environment and education—they are always learning about new organizations they’d like to support. “The MOCI is an easy way to modify our charitable giving wishes at any time…and for free.”

Julie makes clear that there is one organization she has named in her MOCI that won’t change: the Community Foundation. “I love the Foundation and have complete faith in both the staff and the board. Time and time again, they demonstrate a sense of urgency in meeting the needs of today while planning for the needs of tomorrow. “

Celebrating Philanthropy

Julie and Larry have talked openly with their children and grandchildren about the MOCI process. “Larry and I have raised our children—as my parents raised me—to understand part of living a good life is to help other people.” Forever the teacher, Julie says, “It’s not about the size of the gift, it’s about the act of giving itself.”

Header image: Julie in her San Lorenzo classroom circa 1979.

Plan Your Gift for Tomorrow

Learn more about MOCIs