By James Ponder
John Milani, president and CEO of Commercial Cooling in the City of Industry, supports genuine charitable causes like Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in honor of those who helped him when he immigrated to this country from Iran in 1961.
Jeffersonian ideals of democracy, freedom, hard work, and opportunity figure prominently in his story. Arriving in the United States at the age of 16½, he neither spoke English nor knew anyone who could help him get established. But he persisted and found work as a houseboy at the rate of $35 a month.
"I lived in the attic of an eight-room home for medical students," he recalls. "I cleaned the house, washed toilets, changed sheets, and washed dishes after dinner every night."
Milani credit the unmatched generosity of his mother, Zizi Joon, with helping him realize the importance of sharing with others. "She was really, really the most generous person I ever knew in my life," he insists. "She told me, ‘If you give something to someone, don't expect something back.' She also said, ‘It's not how much you give, it's the percentage of your capability.'"
About a year ago, John and Sherry, whom he calls "my beautiful wife," asked their CPA, Oscar Valverde, for help in identifying a worthy organization to support. When Valverde suggested Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, the Milanis reached out to Todd Mekelburg, director of planned giving at Loma Linda University Health.
Mekelburg and Joanna De Leon, director of the LLU Children's Hospital Foundation, arranged for them to tour the hospital with Shamel Abd-Allah, MD, chief of pediatric critical care.
"We were really impressed by the experience," Milani observes. As a result, they established a charitable remainder unitrust to help the hospital serve the children of Southern California.
"We are very grateful to John and Sherry Milani for remembering the patients of Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in their estate planning," Mekelburg observes. "Their commitment to treating others as they would like to be treated is exemplary in this day and age. It was an honor to work with the Milanis and we salute them for leaving a legacy that will benefit the children of Southern California for decades to come."
Milani says it's all about matching their giving to their values.
"The joy we get out of doing something for people who aren't as privileged as we are is wonderful," he concludes. "I think of it as a small payback for all the people who were nice to me in my life, especially when I was a houseboy."
For information on making charitable gifts to any of the entities of Loma Linda University Health, please contact Rebecca Grissom by phone at 909-558-4553 or online.
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