We are always in awe of the compassion and generosity of our Dream Builders.
Here is the story of Mel Jacobsen, one of our most recent Dream Builders. This tall, slender gentleman entered the world in 1920 in a tiny way. Mr. Jacobsen weighed one pound and eight ounces at birth. He was considered a "teacup baby" - tiny babies whose survival was an amazing feat nearly a century ago. But he was a survivor, and he lived to be 90 years old when he passed away peacefully in his St. Petersburg home in June 2009.
After Mr. Jacobsen's wife passed away in November 2000, his circle of friends encouraged him to get serious about planning his will. When he finalized his will in 2007, he included a gift to All Children's Hospital. Many Dream Builders choose to let the ACH Foundation Planned Giving Director, Lydia Bailey, know about their future gifts. But not Mr. Jacobsen - he did things his own way. He was very private about his finances and his estate plans. Several people had considerable influence upon his thinking. One of them was his personal banker at Bank of America, Mrs. Donna O'Neill, who encouraged him to develop a plan for his charitable giving. Another person was his neighbor and advocate, Richard Schultz, who continually encouraged him to work with his attorney, William Griffin.
We were so grateful to learn of Mr. Jacobsen's life and legacy through Richard. Mr. Jacobsen grew up in Philadelphia. He never graduated from high school, but he served in the Army in World War II. After moving to St. Petersburg he became a carpenter. He also tried his entrepreneurial skills with several fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico, but seeking more steady income he returned to his love of carpentry and building. For many years he worked as a building inspector for the City of St. Petersburg. He built homes in Gulfport and St. Petersburg along with vacation homes in Franklin, NC and Leesburg, FL. His houses were always the best-constructed homes in the neighborhood, and his neighbors joked that when it was time to evacuate they would head to his house for shelter. He was a Mason for 65 years.
His neighbors fondly referred to "Mel" as the "Mayor." He spent many hours on his enclosed sun porch reading and watching over the neighborhood. If neighbors were not home and they had non-routine visitors, the "Mayor" was prepared to report on the latest events. Neighbor Richard Schultz described him as "a simple, humble, friendly guy with a big heart." For example: When Mr. Jacobsen read about two teenage girls who lost their horses in a barn fire in Pinellas Park, he found their address and went over to offer to replace their horses. Though another Good Samaritan had already stepped in to help, the effort illustrates the generousspirit of our new Dream Builder.
Mr. Jacobsen and his wife, Ruth, loved to travel and visited every state in the continental U.S. in their "fifth wheeler." They would be gone for months at a time enjoying their adventures. Though they never had children, they cared deeply about children who faced special challenges. As Mr. Jacobsen learned more about the many life -and- death needs at All Children's, he chose to make a significant gift to the Foundation in his will.
Given that Mr. Jacobsen was a "tea cup" baby, his friend Richard (also the executor of Mr. Jacobsen's estate) thought about the tiny babies who are treated in the All Children's Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit(NICU). After Richard and his wife, Bev, explored which area of the hospital would be most fitting of Mr. Jacobsen's wishes, they asked us to name the NICU Admitting Nursery in celebration of Mr. Jacobsen's life.
We received the final distribution of Mr. Jacobsen's estate in July 2010, but his legacy of love and caring will live on for years to come through the patients his gift will touch daily. We thank Mr. Jacobsen for his compassion and generosity toward the children we serve.