VIOLET MOLNAR ON THE SATISFACTION OF GIVING
By James Ponder
When Violet Molnar started planning her estate, the desire to share the blessings of life motivated her to choose a charitable remainder trust with Loma Linda University Health. The arrangement could scarcely work better. Violet enjoys knowing that her funds will help educate future generations of students, while she receives a steady income and significant tax benefits.
Violet says she has a lot to be thankful for. Back in 1956, like other youthful citizens of Budapest, Hungary, she grew tired of Soviet oppression in her native land. "We wanted to have freedom like they do in Switzerland," she explains. But when the Hungarian Revolution was violently suppressed less than three weeks after it started, Violet determined to escape to the West.
"The Russians came back with overwhelming force," she recalls. "Young people tried escaping to Austria, but the borders were so well-controlled it was literally a matter of life or death. With God's help, I made it out."
Paul Berman, a Jewish-American scholar, philanthropist, and Presbyterian pastor, helped Violet immigrate to America a year and a half later. "Dr. Berman was a remarkable person," she recalls. "He personally sponsored more than 400 refugees out of his own resources. He had two PhDs and spoke seven languages. We conversed in German until I learned English."
In addition to political liberty, Violet was looking forward to religious freedom when she arrived in this country. "For most of my adult life, I had wanted to become a Seventh-day Adventist," she shares.
Because of that, Dr. Berman invited her to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet an Adventist pastor by the name of Elder R. E. Crawford, religious liberty secretary for the Southern Union of Seventh-day Adventists at the time.
Doctor Berman and Elder Crawford made arrangements for Violet to work at Florida Sanitarium. Later, she transferred to Southern Missionary College to study nursing. "When I told Dr. Berman I was going to study nursing, he said, ‘You can't afford an Adventist college.'" she recalls. "‘Yes I can,' I told him. ‘I have a rich heavenly Father.'"
Violet sighs as she talks about the romance that drifted away. In the early 1960s she met an Iranian student from Madison College on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. "He was a gorgeous young man," she beams. "Very tall and dark—a member of the royal family in his homeland."
Unfortunately, however, the relationship fell apart when Violet transferred to Columbia Union College in Maryland, 700 miles away. As if that wasn't enough sadness for one year, her mother passed away in Hungary a little bit later.
"I couldn't go home for the funeral because I wasn't an American citizen," she explains. "The Hungarians would have put me in jail for fleeing the country. But I couldn't study, either. I was grieving and my grades came down."
Disturbed by Violet's academic downturn, the head of the nursing program suggested she change her major. Elder Crawford, however, wasn't sure that was a good idea. He asked Violet to clarify her goals. "I told him I wanted to be a nurse," she says. "So he sent me to Atlantic Union College for the two-year RN degree."
After graduating in 1962, Violet worked in Massachusetts until 1965 when friends suggested she move to California. She didn't stay long. Eager to continue her education, she transferred to Walla Walla College (now University) in Washington State. Following her graduation from that school with a B.S. degree in 1973, she accepted a nursing position at Loma Linda University Medical Center and worked for five years.
However, when a supervisor suggested she move to the night shift, Violet hesitated. "I didn't like that," she recalls. "A good friend helped me get a job at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, so I took it. I worked there on the psychiatric unit for 15 years."
After retiring in 1995, she went to work at a satellite psychiatric facility of Corona Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino for another five years. Finally, in 2000—41 years after she arrived in America—Violet retired for good.
She is anything but idle these days. The board of Loma Linda University Church asked Violet to serve as an elder in 1998, and she's been doing it ever since. She also serves the Adventist congregation as a deacon and greeter. That last position is perfectly suited to her outgoing personality and love for people. In her spare time, she raises plants—cacti and Sego palms are her favorites—and loves to travel. She has made numerous trips to Hungary, Romania, and other parts of Europe, and stays in touch with friends through Facebook, Skype, and e-mail.
Violet is proud of being included in Who's Who of American Women and Who's Who in America as well as of her service to Rotary International. "I was a Harris Fellow in Rotary," she notes. The Paul Harris Fellow honor denotes an individual who has donated a significant amount to one of three or more designated Rotary programs.
Over the years, Violet made several gifts to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital before deciding to establish a charitable remainder trust with Loma Linda University Health.
"I feel good knowing that after I'm gone, the money I worked for will enhance the education of others," she says.
In addition to benefiting Loma Linda University Health, the trust enables Violet to avoid capital gains taxes and receive a tax deduction. Furthermore, the asset is removed from her estate. But in the true spirit of philanthropy, Violet is not primarily concerned with how the trust benefits her.
"Except for the gold in my teeth, I can't take it with me," she grins. "I came to America with $10 in my pocket. Really, truly, I always felt I was helped. I need to return what God blessed me with.
"For me," she concludes, "it's all about the satisfaction of giving to help others."
For further information about exploring planned gift options, such as establishing a charitable remainder trust, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 909-558-4553 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.