Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email Jennifer.
Mary has devoted herself to helping the year round residents of the small island town on which she lives, Block Island, RI. A town that struggles during the winter months when the tourists have gone back home.
But, not if Mary has anything to say about it.
Mary started the Mary D Fund in 1979 to help residents get through the tough times. She raises money and then uses it to help residents in need. There’s no board of directors or red tape to go through. You just have to be approved by Mary herself. She pays bills directly to ensure that the money is going to the right place (i.e., not the town bar), and you have to be a year-round resident to get aid.
Oh, and Mary’s also the town nurse.
As Mary says in the Nightly News story, “I work with my heart instead of my head.”
I found out about Mary earlier this week from a colleague and friend, in a business meeting of all places. Teresa Bendokas Heinfeld, Tree for short, shared the story of the woman she grew up calling “Mary Mom.” Tree was incredibly proud of Mary and excited to share her story, as she knows it well, having grown up on Block Island. From Tree’s perspective:
I’m not sure that a community can ever adequately thank or describe how they feel about a woman like Mary Donnelly. I grew up calling her Mary Mom and my own daughter, now the age I was in the picture (above), calls her by the same name.
The most amazing thing I have learned from her is that helping your community, helping a neighbor, caring for a fellow human, is just what you do. She is one of the rarest women ever created by virtue of her strength of conviction that we as humans should be good to each other whenever possible and laugh at every opportunity.
We should all be so lucky to have a woman like Mary Donnelly in our lives.
Those interested in donating to The Mary D Fund can send a check to: The Mary D Fund, Box 323, Block Island, RI 02807