Ruth Frey & Evalena Tobaben


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Ruth Frey & Evalena Tobaben

Two sisters find a way to both give and receive.

Sisters Ruth Frey and Evalena Tobaben may seem like unlikely college donors. They never attended college and, in fact, had only a passing association with Lipscomb University through their church in Louisville. That all changed in 1994, when Frey attended her first Lipscomb Summer Hostel, a week-long combination of classes and field trips for individuals who want to learn in a classroom setting again. About that same time, she set up the first of several gift annuities through the university.

A gift annuity allows a donor to contribute a sum of money to a charity and receive an annual income as long as he or she lives. The donor is also entitled to an income tax deduction, and part of the annual income is tax -free because it is considered return of principal. When the donor dies, the original gift goes completely to the charity. Frey’s gift annuity was the beginning of a relationship with the university that would last for many years.

It wasn’t long before Frey encouraged her sister to join her at Lipscomb’s Summer Hostel. They continued to attend every summer until 2010, and Tobaben also set up gift annuities through Lipscomb. Today, the sisters say they are investing in Lipscomb—rather than giving—because they receive an income through the charitable gift annuities. They believe strongly that Lipscomb upholds belief in integrity, honesty, and other moral values that they hold dearly.

This year Frey and Tobaben attended the 25th anniversary for the hostel program. “I have nothing but good memories of all the hostels, and now I can add this event to my good memories,” Frey said. The sisters have always considered the hostel experience more than an opportunity to attend classes. They also think about the students who may be benefiting from their investments. And they feel proud to be a part of what Lipscomb is doing: investing in young people and creating many more memorable experiences.