Mary will never forget the day she faced raising two young children on her own, with no place to live, no job and little support from her family or church. After years of threatening, her abusive husband had finally abandoned her. Barely able to see the road through her tears, she returned to Maryland. Eventually she found a place to live and a part-time job that enabled her to support her family while being home with her children when they needed her. Most importantly, she began the process of regaining her sense of dignity and self-worth.

That was fifty years ago. This spring, Mary met with women living at Anna’s House to share her story and to offer them encouragement. She has had a successful career, re-married a loving husband and enjoys time spent with her grandchildren, yet she remembers the challenges of having had no daycare, of there being no jobs for women with dependent children and of limited opportunities for counseling. Therefore, she decided to take one more step in her journey of recovery from the memories of that terrible time. She is helping other women who find themselves in similar circumstances to those she faced.

In August 2006, Mary donated funds to Catholic Charities to establish a charitable gift annuity to benefit Anna’s House. A gift annuity is a simple contract between a donor and Catholic Charities. In exchange for a gift, the donor receives guaranteed annual payments for life, based on his or her age. A portion of the payments are tax-free for the donor’s life expectancy and the donor receives an immediate charitable income tax deduction. After the donor passes away, the remainder of the gift goes to support Catholic Charities’ programs – in this case Anna’s House.

Mary told the women that she called her gift annuity the “Women in Need” fund, because it will be used to provide counseling and other support services. As she shared her story, she told them: “Look in the mirror every day and tell yourself that you are special. Don’t ever let anyone dictate to you how you feel about yourself.” She encouraged the women to seek counseling, to be strong and to use her story as an example of how life can be completely different only a few years down the road. Through her example and her generosity, she is paving that road to self-sufficiency for others.