Sharon Roark: Designating a Gift To Save Animals for Generations
Sharon Roark grew up loving zoos. Today, she still does. Sharon grew up near Washington D.C., where she and her family often visited the National Zoo. Seeing elephants, lions, and rhinos up close inspired a lifelong interest in animals and a dream to visit Africa.
After college, Sharon began a career in accounting in Houston and volunteered for The Nature Conservancy. She later worked full-time at the Conservancy and then became a fundraiser for the Galveston Bay Foundation. Her love for wildlife also made her a globetrotter. The most meaningful trips were safaris in Africa that she describes as the trips of a lifetime for an animal lover. Sharon's travels helped drive home the importance of zoos. "I know how fortunate I am to have seen African wildlife in person. Many people don't get that opportunity. Zoos give people the chance to see these animals, connect with them and care about them."
Retirement gave Sharon a chance to contribute her time to the Houston Zoo as a volunteer - "I started as a storyteller for Hasani, the Zoo's new lion who joined us in 2017. I spent time helping guests understand the introduction process as he was getting to know the lionesses." But Sharon wanted to create a legacy of support to sustain the Houston Zoo. "People leave gifts through their estates to causes they love and support. I want my family to be taken care of, but what else do I care about? For me, that answer is animals."
So, she designated the Houston Zoo as the beneficiary of her 401(k)-retirement plan. "I want my grandkids to grow up in a world full of wildlife and wild places, like I did. My legacy gift is a meaningful way to be a part of the Zoo now and to continue its work of saving animals for the future."
Donating part or all of your unused retirement assets, such as your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), pension or other tax-deferred plan, is an excellent way to make a gift to the Houston Zoo. If you have any questions about gifts of retirement assets, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you and answer any questions that you have.