Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Haspel

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Cummings School volunteer Linda Haspel relaxes at home with her boys, Deaglan, left, and Conchobar (known as Connor). A painting of Ruaidrí hangs on the wall behind them.

A beautiful relationship with our veterinarians drew Linda and Marty Haspel hundreds of miles to their new home near Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Back in 2006, the Haspels lived primarily in Maryland, but were visiting their vacation home on Cape Cod when one of their beloved Irish Setters, Brendan, was diagnosed with diabetes. Their veterinarian on Cape Cod explained that Brendan would require “extraordinary care” and recommended taking him to the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Cummings School for further testing and treatment. That led to a thorough evaluation by Dr. Linda Ross, whom the Haspels’ veterinarian described as “a world-class veterinary internist.” Linda and Marty’s connection to Cummings School deepened when another of their Irish Setters, Ruaidrí (pronounced “Rory”), a Grand Champion whose celebrated beauty had led to appearances in Ralph Lauren fashion ads, experienced his own health issues. Linda and Marty decided to move to Westborough, a short drive from Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, because they “wanted their dogs to receive the best possible care.” Linda and Marty credit the melanoma vaccine, and the care that Ruaidrí received, for prolonging his life.

Reflecting on what makes Cummings School special, Linda remarks, “I could have read about how wonderful Tufts is; but experiencing it first-hand has been wonderful—seeing how devoted everyone is—from the receptionists, technicians, doctors, interns, residents, students, the hospital director, up to the dean. They provide fantastic care. We’ve developed relationships with many of the people and consider a number of them to be good friends.”

About 10 years ago, Linda and Marty wanted to express their appreciation by increasing their giving to Cummings School, but economic stress prevented them from making a larger gift. They met with a member of University Advancement, who mentioned the option of planned giving. “That opened up the idea of paying forward,” explains Linda. “We knew we couldn’t be as generous as we wanted to be at that particular time, but we could still provide for Tufts. That’s when the whole planned giving concept took root in our lives. It presented the perfect opportunity to give back.” Several years after adding Cummings School as a significant beneficiary of their estate plan, the Haspels’ financial circumstances improved and they made additional gifts, including dedicating two examination rooms at the hospital and an endowed scholarship in honor of Ruaidrí.

Marty and Linda have found parallel paths as Cummings School volunteers, with Marty serving on the Board of Advisors and Linda accepting an offer to serve on the Cummings School Campaign Committee as its Gift Planning Chair, working closely with University Planned Giving Chair Linda Dixon. Last December, Linda and Marty hosted “Vino with a Vet,” a virtual event in which participants learned about the Charles Tufts Society; listened to a fascinating presentation by a Cummings School alumnus who is a shark expert; and engaged with Cummings School faculty. As a festive touch, and to facilitate attendees being able to participate in a virtual toast, a special wine glass was sent prior to the event to everyone who had registered. Linda recalls that, “We told people about the Charles Tufts Society in a low‑key way because we didn’t want anyone to feel pressured. I don’t think enough people know about gift planning as an option, so it’s important to share this information.”

Asked what she enjoys about volunteering for Tufts, Linda responds without hesitation. “Anything Tufts will let me do, I find rewarding. It makes me happy to know that I’m opening up ideas for people and sparking awareness of planned giving, which is so important.”