Chuck Fountaine and Natalie Simone-Fountaine are perfect examples of how planned giving donors to the National Trust for Historic Preservation are anything but stodgy philanthropists. In addition to being whole food connoisseurs, workout enthusiasts, and NASCAR fanatics, they are passionate preservationists. Recognizing their abiding commitment to passing on places for future generations, Chuck and Natalie recently revised their estate plans to include a generous bequest to the National Trust.
Having a lifelong love of architecture and history, Chuck and Natalie's preservation epiphany came in the late 1990s during their first visit to Newport, Rhode Island. They were saddened to learn of beautiful historic mansions that had been torn down in previous decades to make way for a residential subdivision, and made an immediate commitment to help preserve the remaining icons of a bygone era. Chuck and Natalie joined the Newport Historical Society on the spot.
"We couldn't believe that these wonderful structures had been torn down simply because the original families could no longer afford them," remembers Natalie. "We were heartened to learn that the Preservation Society of Newport had made great strides in preserving the remaining old mansions, and we wanted to be part of the ongoing solution."
"We get so much pleasure from knowing that even our small part helps keeps these wonderful places intact," Chuck adds.
The loss of historic places became more personal when Natalie returned to her hometown, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a few years ago and drove down the familiar street where she had attended junior high school. She tears up when recounting what she saw.
"When I saw that they had torn down my junior high and all that remained was the parking lot with grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement, I was devastated," recalls Natalie. "Every time I drove by that place, I had happy memories. It broke my heart that the building didn't exist anymore. I just couldn't believe that no one had the foresight to realize that my junior high had historic significance or the creativity to find a way to save it."
Today, Chuck and Natalie's love of history is their main motivation for traveling. Whether making the quick drive to Washington, DC, to marvel at all the amazing architecture, or to relax in the spa at the historic Hotel Hershey over a long weekend, history-filled trips are a favorite activity now that Chuck is retired and Natalie has a more flexible work schedule.
Their favorite place to visit is the picturesque town of Lititz, Pennsylvania. Located in beautiful Lancaster County, Lititz is a thriving historic community that was named one of the National Trust's Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2009. Over the years, this place has become so special to Chuck and Natalie that they chose to renew their wedding vows there in 2002.
"Since Lititz has so much significance for us personally, we were absolutely thrilled to see it designated as one of the Trust's Distinctive Destinations," Natalie recalls.
Wanting to share this love of historic places, Chuck and Natalie considered making a significant gift through their estate plans to support historic preservation. In 2005, they drafted their first wills and went on a mission to select a handful of charities to receive their support. In the process, they made an appointment to speak with a member of the National Trust's planned giving staff.
"We were already members of the Newport Historical Society and the Lititz Historical Foundation, but when we realized that by leaving a bequest to the National Trust we could have impact on the national level, it was a no brainer," recalls Chuck.
Since then, Chuck and Natalie have enjoyed membership in the National Trust's Legacy Circle and have been dedicated supporters of the National Trust's mission to save historic places.
"Since we don't have children of our own, we wanted to establish a legacy that we could be passionate and proud of," says Natalie. "We believe strongly in the National Trust's mission and want to do our part to help the organization thrive into the future."