Giving To Fulfill A Calling

Dr. Stacey Berg

Dr. Stacey Berg (right), director of Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers' Palliative Care Program, gave Risa Taub McDonald a tour of the Cancer Center.

By Michelle Flippin
"Sometimes you have to start where you don't want to be to end up where you want to be," says Risa Taub McDonald, a licensed clinical social worker with advanced certified hospice and palliative care accreditation.

Risa's desire to be with and help the patients at Texas Children's Hospital pushed her through unexpected turns on her journey, such as being assigned to serve at the hospital's soda fountain as a volunteer in the '60s and working in the food and beverage industry early in her career.

After pursuing a master's degree in social work and gaining experience in hospice and in-home care, she came full circle by serving high-risk leukemia patients as a clinical oncology social worker at Texas Children's Cancer Center from 2008-2011.

"Providing inpatient palliative and end-of-life care for pediatric oncology patients felt like a calling," said Risa. "I loved it." She was privileged to spend time with Joy Hesslegrave, Dr. Ernest Fruge and others involved in a 90-day palliative care team study that turned into an informal, ongoing palliative care effort at the Cancer Center. The vision for palliative care at the Cancer Center stayed with her even after she retired to spend time with her family.

When Risa and her husband, Sterling H. McDonald, started their estate planning, she saw a new way to fulfill her calling: a financial contribution that would sustain in perpetuity the Cancer Center's now formal palliative care program. Risa plans to leave an estate gift to Texas Children's through a charitable remainder unitrust. Her gift will support the Cancer Center's palliative care/end-of-life care team and establish the Risa Taub and Sterling McDonald Endowed Fund in honor of her mother, Mrs. John Ben (Marion) Taub.

Marion exemplified service to others and introduced Risa to Texas Children's through volunteer work. "She would very much smile upon, bless and be proud of this endeavor," said Risa.

Palliative care is the science of a medicine tailored to provide many kinds of symptom control—it's a holistic approach to making a difficult clinical situation better through comfort care; emotional, physical and spiritual support; and provision of education and resources for patients and families.

Risa knows personally what a wonderful gift the highly specialized, interdisciplinary service of palliative care is to families. She has witnessed the incredible service enhancement it provides and believes knowing what to expect can turn the loss of a loved one into an enriching, intimacy-promoting life experience for the patient, as well as their families.

Risa has given her time, talents and financial resources to fulfill her calling. She encourages others to follow their hearts about how they might make a difference in the lives of young patients at Texas Children's.

Please get in touch with Rachel S. Kronenberger, at 832-824-6907 or"> if you have questions about how you can provide lasting support for Texas Children's through a gift in your will or trust.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Texas Children's Hospital a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Texas Children's Hospital, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Houston, TX, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Texas Children's Hospital or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Texas Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Texas Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Texas Children's Hospital where you agree to make a gift to Texas Children's Hospital and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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