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Philanthropy Files: March 2021

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Laura Honn- Philanthropy Manager

Women’s Role in Philanthropy; advancing community causes through relationships.

Each March in celebration of women’s history month we often find ourselves gathering to celebrate the many contributions that women have made to our nation and the wider world.

When thinking about my contribution to our monthly newsletter I decided that in recognition of  Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight some of the exceptional women who through their  philanthropic efforts have been able to forge real solutions to some of the most challenging problems we face in today’s world. For many years women have played a key part in philanthropy. Choosing to contribute both fiscally and through giving their time, skills and heartfelt support to advance causes in their communities.

When researching this article I came across many inspirational and fascinating stories. From the innovative Mary Garrett, who after inheriting her significant family fortune, chose to invest aggressively in the college preparatory school landscape for women in her hometown of Baltimore. Taking a hands-on approach to making sure that more women attended college, which was a somewhat radical approach in the late 18th Century. Continuing this support of Women’s education when she came to the rescue of The Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1891. The opening was stalled due to lack of funding but  Mary stepped in with a large gift, stipulating, however, that accepting her gift meant that the medical school would now also accept women.

Ima Hogg embodied the old saying, “Charity begins at home”, choosing to use her wealth to benefit her home state of Texas. Closest to her heart was the promotion of mental health and wellness. She founded the Houston Child Guidance clinic in 1929. The clinic focused on providing child psychology. She also expanded her work as the years passed to provide mental health education in small and very rural towns.

Oseola McCarty was a self-made woman who worked for many years as a washerwoman. She took great pride in her work, saying, “Work is a blessing. As long as I am living I want to be working at something.” When retirement approached at 86, Oseola made an unexpected discovery. She had been depositing into her savings since she was 8 years old and had ended her career with nearly $280,000. Rather than hold on to her small fortune she chose to give it away, selecting The University Of Southern Mississippi to fund scholarships to underserved students- something that continues to happen today.

Finally, I wanted to share with you the work and commitment of Kathryn McCurry-Albertson. Kathryn grew up in Idaho and attended the Boise school system. Together with her husband Joe they started the grocery chain Albertsons. As their business continued to grow both Kathryn and Joe believed strongly that “once you make it, you need to give back.” Kathryn gave to a number of charitable causes, especially focusing on causes that helped further education. In 1966, the J.A and Kathryn Albertson Foundation was formed, and this foundation continues to help tackle many challenges through their generous donations and support.

While many of the women above had to forge their own paths to philanthropic impact, we are lucky to live in a time when there are many opportunities for women to thrive in philanthropic endeavors and have a real impact. The power of collaborative philanthropy continues to gain momentum as women come together to address challenging wide-ranging issues in a variety of ways. We are grateful to all our WCA supporters, but during Women’s History Month, we want to give a special shout-out to all the women in our community that have chosen to support us through their time, treasure and talents.

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