John Fairval: "I Give Because It Is Right"

John FairvalLife, from beginning to end, is a fascinating thing.

I have been lucky to live what I consider an interesting life: I was born in France, and came to America after three years of serving in the French armed forces. My wife had a job with the United Nations in New York, and we moved there together. I started in the U.S. by washing dishes in restaurant kitchens, then taught, then worked for the media as a photojournalist. It doesn't matter how you pay the bills — if you observe things all the time you gain knowledge and lead an interesting life.

In September, I turned 79. When my wife passed away several years ago, I began to think about what kind of legacy I will leave. We have no kids, no family, and have long believed in helping people. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders and AARP Foundation came to mind, and others that help people in different ways. We'd supported these groups for a long time.

We did not give to these organizations to be do-gooders. We give to them because it is right. Supporting AARP Foundation is supporting people. It's as simple as that. And my personal philosophy in life is to help people, both all across the world and here in this country.

I have three charitable gift annuities with AARP Foundation because I see it as a good gesture, an investment in humanity. It allows me a steady income that helps me live my life, and the rest goes to people helping others. It is, I think, a beautiful thing.