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Cynthia Wright

Cynthia Wright
Home Sweet Home: Perfect Fit for a Designer

By Betsy Meyer

Eclectic antiques line the living room walls. Each piece has a story, each memory a connection to a life filled with adventure. The living room leads to a garden that overflows with flowers from around the world. Cynthia Wright's home is an expression of herself and she spends her retirement days perfecting the collection, design, and layout of her home and garden. Wright invites a guest to sit and enjoy the view. Draped across the den chair is a blanket from Pepperdine University-a subtle but clear symbol of her friendship with Pepperdine.

Wright didn't just settle into this home, she belongs here. She has spent almost her entire life in and around Los Angeles and is a self-proclaimed "beach girl." Wright attended Redondo Union High School, followed by intense study at Chouinard Art Institute where she completed a major in fashion design.

As a young graduate, Wright began selling her fashion designs at various retail stores which quickly led her to sole proprietorship of three boutiques, Cynthia's Casuals, located in Manhattan Beach, Westwood, and Torrance. After 12 years of owning, designing, and manufacturing her well-known and greatly sought-after designs, Wright took a break from high fashion and the Southland to embrace another career opportunity. She eventually returned to the fashion industry working with C. Jay's Incorporated and BOCA, indulging her love for design and fashion once again.

Upon retirement, Wright never lost her passion and uses her home and garden as a palette for her creativity, resulting in the display that exists today. Pointing out various plants that she recently purchased during her weekly trip to the flea markets, Wright says, "I just love working in my garden and around my home. It really represents who I am."

Two years ago, a series of conversations with friends and neighbors introduced her to Pepperdine's Center for Estate and Gift Planning. While learning about the University's different charitable gift annuity (CGA) programs, she discovered that Pepperdine had a plan that helped her remain in her home while significantly increasing her income. After evaluating the financial benefits and learning about the legacy she could leave at Pepperdine, Wright donated a "remainder interest" in her home to the University in return for a guaranteed lifetime income stream. "The process was easy," Wright says. "Everyone at Pepperdine was so helpful; I didn't have any concerns at all."

Keith Hinkle, associate vice chancellor with the Center for Estate and Gift Planning, says, "Pepperdine's CGA for Home program is a great tool for those who want to retain control and use of their home, enjoy having some additional income, and make a significant difference in the lives of our students. This was the perfect tool for Cynthia, based on her needs and goals."

Pepperdine's CGA for Home program is similar to a "reverse mortgage," minus the fees, plus increased flexibility, should the donor want to move. Hinkle explains, "Not only is there virtually no cost to setting one of these up but, if the donor wants to move later on, all of the net proceeds from the sale can be rolled into the new home. This gives our donors a lot of peace of mind."

With the monthly payment from Pepperdine, Wright's quality of life has improved. In addition to giving her some additional financial security, Wright also enjoys knowing that she'll be giving future Pepperdine students the resources to complete their education. "Pepperdine is like family to me. I'm glad I can help the students," she says, smiling.