Nancy Henderson

A Lesson in Gratitude

Nancy HendersonNancy Henderson wrestled with many questions the first time she sat down to discuss giving decisions for her will. There were formulas and percentages to consider. There were emotional decisions about the people she loved and the hardships she witnessed over a lifetime of travel.

She wondered how to even begin to prioritize.

"I was in tears, trying to figure out how to do this," she says.

But Nancy has never been one to sit for long with a problem. An educator and explorer, she's always searching, always learning.

World Travel Inspires Selflessness

As a young woman with a degree from the University of California Santa Barbara, she followed her exploring spirit to teaching jobs at elementary schools in the Southern California desert; Prague, Czech Republic; and the Bahamas.

She then moved to Bangkok, where she worked as a teacher and volunteered for a fair-trade organization empowering tribal people to develop handicrafts for a Western market. The level of poverty she witnessed, and the group's dedication, deeply moved her. "It was the first time I realized that all missionaries weren't out there to convert people," she says. "They were out there to help people live."

Later, Nancy completed an MBA degree and found success in business. Along the way, she learned gratitude—for good parents, her own childhood in a country of opportunity, and the skills to support herself.

Through it all, she sponsored children through World Vision—two early in her career, then four, then two after she retired. "It doesn't exactly even out the world," she says, "but it does a tiny bit toward balancing it."

Commitment to Those in Need

Nancy's giving conundrum inspired her to consider all she'd learned over a lifetime of exploration. She'd studied religion. She'd added causes and let them go when they didn't resonate for her any longer.

Though her support of various causes shifted over time, Nancy's commitment to World Vision remained constant. She liked its promise to earmark a major percentage of its donations to people in need, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or gender.

One evening, while Nancy was leading a church program about homelessness, a class member confessed to feeling overwhelmed by it all. Nancy wondered how she could help. In that moment, she recalled writer and theologian Frederick Buechner's words: The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

"I would say there are so many needs in this world," she said. "Just choose the one thing that you can and want to do, and do that."

Doing Her Part

Recently, Nancy sat down with her lawyer to review her will again. And that time, the choices fell into place, including naming World Vision as a beneficiary of her retirement plan assets.

She explains: "I cannot compare myself to John Rockefeller. I can't build a building for a university, and I can't start a program or even chair a head of a department. But I can make a pledge."

She left her lawyer's office with a prayer on her lips for World Vision and a deep sense of satisfaction. "There are a million good causes," she says. "I can't do it all. But I can do something."

If you would like to learn more about helping children by naming World Vision as beneficiary of your retirement plan or other assets, please contact our planned giving experts at 1.800.426.5753 or

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