Sure, getting dressed up for the annual Playford Ball is fun, but for over 50 years it’s been the variety of moods in the music and patterns in the dances that have kept me engaged. Not to mention the people I’ve danced them with.

Over those years, what I’ve learned is that it just doesn’t happen all by itself. People who cared kept those dances going, kept that music playing. They learned from someone and they are passing it on – like family love. But dedication and love are not enough. They also need money. So, when I no longer need it, they’re going to get some of mine.

My wife Lynne Stauff and I are planners and savers. Since we don’t have children and are in our early to mid 50s, we wanted to plan where our money would go when we are no longer here. Contra dancing was one of the first things Lynne took me to when I met her and I became addicted shortly thereafter.  So when our financial advisor asked us to create a trust and pick some beneficiaries, it was a no-brainer to include the contra dance community.

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It was definitely time for me to write my will, although I hope not to use it for a good many years. In thinking about what has been a big part of my life, it seems appropriate to designate CDSS as a major beneficiary of my assets. My first husband introduced me to contra dancing over 40 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. After 15 years of dancing, I realized that someone has to do work to keep the dances going. What a revelation! As a result, I learned and grew in taking leadership roles to sustain and nurture my community (local and beyond). This has led me to so many enriching experiences and helped me be the person I am today.

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We’ve been dancing for a combined total of about 88 years. We met at a weekly dance in New York City, and five years later morris and country dance were key elements in our wedding. We’ve gone to (at least one) CDSS week at camp every year since 1973, including English, American, English and American, Family, Campers, Buffalo Gap, and Early Music. Beverly is a leading caller and David has been involved in board work (CDSS, CDNY, PCI) for many years. Clearly dancing has been a dear part of our lives for decades.

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When I first heard about planned giving it sounded like such a great idea! A way that people who loved our traditions of dance, music and song could give a final gift to help insure that CDSS would continue to thrive.

At first I couldn’t see how I could participate in the planned giving program. I’m probably not going to need a trust or complicated estate plan as I move into the final decades of my life. What I do have are retirement accounts and those have named beneficiaries. I’ve recently changed those beneficiaries to be CDSS! This was a very easy thing to do and an easy decision to make. This isn’t a set amount that CDSS will receive, I’m planning for it to be many decades before the gift is given and I’m really happy that I could take this step into planned giving.

Could you join me and take a step today?

I can’t imagine what my life would be if it weren’t for the Country Dance and Song Society. I used to be a very shy person. Then I discovered I could perform clogging routines in front of people, which led to contra dance, English dance, and then with support from CDSS, I was able to get on stage in front of a room full of people to teach and share my love of dance! This has helped me in all areas of my life—I am comfortable being gregarious and have left that shyness behind. And I now have many friends from all over North America and Europe, a treasure I would never have thought possible.

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My friends at CDSS asked me why I had chosen to participate in the Legacy of Joy Society by naming CDSS in my will. Well, just that. To leave a legacy of joy. The amount designated in my will is not nearly commensurate with the joy I receive from music, song, dance, and the personal connections with many friends in the CDSS community and beyond, but I hope it will help to ensure that CDSS initiatives to support and sustain these traditional activities, and the inclusive, caring communities they build, well into the future.  And, perhaps, also, as one last motherly reminder to my children: don’t forget to do whatever you can to ensure that those things that have given you joy in your lifetime will endure for generations to come.

Arthur and I made our estate plans a few years back when I was serving on the CDSS Board and he was serving on both the Pinewoods Camp Board and our local dance board. Including CDSS as a beneficiary was a no-brainer for us. Art introduced me to dancing shortly after I met him and we had a ridiculously great time in the dance and song community our entire 30 years together. Dancing itself, the community, and the deep friendships we made had all been central to our life together—those connections continue to be central to my life. We wanted to help sustain that kind of community long into the future.

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We each started country dancing in the early 1970s with Dudley Laufman, Sheila in Maine and David in New Hampshire. Music, song, and dance have been central to our lives for most of our adult lives.

Over the decades, our involvement in these activities has included playing in a dance band, singing with Village Harmony, joining a longsword team, performing in the Hanover Christmas Revels, singing in a hospice chorus, and calling dances. David’s calling and our travels were, in roughly equal parts, devoted to English country, contra and squares, and community/children/family dancing.

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L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation) is a Jewish phrase which refers to continuity, the responsibility of passing on knowledge and traditions to sustain them for the future. This concept informs our plans to leave a bequest to CDSS.

We met folk dancing, and our marriage and family life has been enriched by community dance and song, largely from our home base in Northern California. We’ve danced throughout the U.S. and even in Jerusalem, courtesy of an American expatriate dancer. As toddlers, our daughters fell asleep on the sidelines of contra dances, and as they grew, joined us on the dance floor and at summer camps. This summer we look forward to CDSS Family Week at Ogontz with our daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter—the next generation to share the tradition with us.

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