“A lot of my clients will come in and say, ‘I want to give money to this organization’ or ‘I want to create a scholarship and I don’t really know how to go about doing it.’ That to me is the opportunity to say, ’Have you heard of the Community Foundation?’” said Jamie Smith, attorney and co-founder of Smith Vavonese, a small law firm in the heart of Orchard Park she leads with her husband, Frank Vavonese, that specializes in elder law and estate planning. “Some people think of charitable giving as leaving money in your Will to a specific organization, which then spends it however they see fit and that is it. When clients realize there are other opportunities and that through an endowment, that donation can pay into perpetuity to those organizations that are close to their heart, it is amazing.”
Finding her passion for elder law shortly after graduating from UB Law School in 2003, Jamie was introduced to the Community Foundation early on in her career.
She served on the Community Foundation’s Professional Advisor Council, a group of local attorneys, certified public accountants and financial professionals who work toward gaining a deeper understanding of the Community Foundation’s services and its role in Western New York. The Council members also provide feedback to enhance the Foundation’s ability to be a preeminent resource on charitable giving for the professional advisor field. “I would encourage other professional advisors who have not had the opportunity to work with the Community Foundation to just sit down and have a conversation with the team,” Jamie said.
Whether a client lives out of town and wants to continue to support Western New York, or they want to support a cause most meaningful to them forever through an endowment, Jamie knows the Community Foundation can support their charitable wishes. “The Community Foundation is responsive and will go out of its way to help clients explore different possibilities, and set up a custom tailored approach for what they are looking to do with their money,” she said. “It is eye opening for clients to see the legacy they can leave through the Community Foundation.”