May 20, 2024

Mary Albert’s Donor Story

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Story by Mary Alberts, Legacy Circle Donor & YWCA Board Member

We all want to be remembered for something, but my greatest fear is that it will be for the time I went to a costume party dressed as Cat Woman, long after the potential for any transformative relationship with spandex had ended. However, even as we age (and thicken), there remains in us that child whose earliest experiences help shape the person we become and with whom we eventually grow old.

Sixty-some years ago, clad in too-small pajamas and gripping the dashboard of our old green Buick, I pleaded with my mother to stop our speeding car and take us back home. Over the rain and the sobbing of back-seat siblings, my mother, herself full of tears and rage, kept repeating the words "We are never going back!" as she pounded the steering wheel over and over and over again. But we did. Again and again, until we were mostly all grown and on our own. In the early 1960s, there was no YWCA in my hometown to take a woman like my mom, with five small children, into their safekeeping, so there was no choice. We always went back.

Since those long-ago nights of violence and insecurity, I've been blessed with a life of loving friends and family, stimulating educational challenges, and a rewarding range of travel and career opportunities. As I look back over the early history that was the catalyst for my personal commitment to YWCA Spokane, I am grateful for the subsequent good fortune that has allowed me to become an active supporter of their crucial work. Serving on the YWCA board has provided a close-up look at the difficulties faced by many in our community, allowing me to learn from the deeply committed coterie of fellow board members and the executive team. Thanks to the influence of this talented cohort, my heart and mind keep expanding, and I continue to feel useful and valued for what I may bring to the table.

Although influenced by very different experiences, my cherished life partner, Jim Sheehan, shares my enthusiasm for the YWCA's role in the health of our Spokane community. The "elimination of racism" speaks strongly to Jim, and he has taken great joy in funding the Transformation Camps and other education and community outreach initiatives. I use the word "joy" because we both believe that if your philanthropy is grounded in your values, you will experience enormous joy in giving. Our friends and neighbors have regularly joined us in this endeavor, giving generously to the YWCA in support of its mission. We encourage others to consider their own legacy giving in this way. Follow your values and seek the joy - and bring others along with you when you can.

Facing old age and inevitable death is hardly fun, but I have to say that making some decisions about what happens to my "stuff" after I'm gone has been a surprisingly good time. When the YW announced the formation of the Forever Fund, I jumped at the chance to make the first donation toward a YWCA future not dependent on unpredictable grants and a fluctuating economy. I love envisioning a day when the YW's shelter director is not stressing over whether there are adequate resources to provide emergency and transitional housing for individuals and families impacted by domestic violence. A day when there is a solid legal team to meet the demands for restraining orders and court preparation. A day when those harmed by circumstance can receive comfort and guidance from qualified counselors. A day when no parent foregoes meaningful employment due to lack of affordable childcare. And a day when no YWCA client is turned away without receiving the services they need most. Now, there's a legacy!

By: YWCA Spokane

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