Author Archives: kirbylochner

The True Impact of Planned Giving

The following was written by a member of the FamilyWorks community to help share the importance of planned giving to our community, and its own personal significance in their life. To start planning a bequeathal and join the Merridy Williams Society, visit the FamilyWorks FreeWill page.

A few years ago when I made out my Last Will and Testament, I bequeathed FamilyWorks a certain percentage of my net worth. At the time I certainly did not [do not] know if there would be any money at all when the time comes, but who am I to say what the future holds? With that unknown in mind, I made out the will so that a certain percentage of my assets would be given to FamilyWorks — the magnitude of the gift being contingent on forces way beyond my control.

I chose FamilyWorks in particular because I wanted to mark my family’s experiences of food scarcity while benefitting the Wallingford food bank that addresses the urgent need for food of the people who come to it. FamilyWorks goes further to address the needs of its clients because at the same time it attends to people’s immediate hunger, it also attends to the complicated, urgent needs of parents caring for small children. FamilyWorks does its essential work on NE45th Street in the midst of Wallingford shops and businesses. The people of Wallingford should be proud that it is there.

I moved to Wallingford in the 1970’s, when I was in my early 40’s. Up to that time my life had been somewhat rootless, and so I vowed to stay in Wallingford for the duration. Eventually I bought a house in Wallingford and when I included FamilyWorks in my will, it was because FamilyWorks belongs to Wallingford, my chosen home.

There are other reasons, too.

At the time I made out the will, I knew I was far luckier in life than my mother and father, who nearly always struggled with poverty. Even when there was enough food, nobody ever forgot that sometimes there had not been enough. Fortunately for me, my parents were both story tellers and they talked about it.  They richly communicated essential truths about being hungry, about being stingy or generous, ashamed or proud, in isolation or in community. I am so grateful to them for their stories which showed them to be rich in wonderment about life and rich in “can do.” Their stories were also rich in grateful acknowledgement of the generosity of other people toward them. My support of FamilyWorks is meant to honor my parents AND the people who helped them in the worst of times.

My mother, who was white, came from rural Mississippi, from a family with an alcoholic father who sometimes could not hold a job.  Her family was often in desperate straits. The story is that during one of the most difficult of these times, a neighboring black family fed and sheltered my grandparents and their four children for a considerable period of time. I have only gradually realized that the generosity of that family must have been as dangerous as it was warm, given the violence in Mississippi during the early 20th century.

Throughout the span of my life I have often imagined that family as I have wondered about what those days in Mississippi must have been like. As I have increasingly grasped the horrific racial tensions in that time and place, the more wonderful that family seems to me. I realize now that the gesture of gifting FamilyWorks in my will is especially meant to mark the courageous spirit of generosity of those long ago people in a desperate time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ami’s Story – by Launa Lea

How Ami — a refugee, a mother, a vibrant member of our community — found her home at FamilyWorks through playgroups and by building relationships with the family advocates at Seattle’s only family resource center and food bank.

When meeting Ami, people are struck most by her positive attitude.  She’s always smiling, energized and generous with her words.  Most people wouldn’t, couldn’t imagine the level of trauma she’s been witness to, and I got curious about her.  What’s her secret? When I asked her this, she laughed.

I work in hospice you know.  I hold the hand of those who are approaching death.  What I’ve learned is: Only kindness matters—that’s a person’s legacy.  Everything else dies with them. 

Ami fled from Somalia when she was just thirteen. 

You couldn’t walk the streets.  Young women were being raped.  There were no police, no jail…I remember when I heard that the girl I grew up was killed in rebel crossfire.  She was going to get bread.  That was my best friend.  People were carrying guns, killing their neighbors; these people with guns were a tiny minority, but they took over.  I asked, “Why? Why? Why?”

Ami has four children.  She works, and is studying to get into a social work program. Ami also volunteers regularly.

That was modeled for me by my mother.  She taught me about community.  I live in her memory, and her legacy of love lives through me. Community, its strength, is the only thing that stands between chaos and stability. Being in community heals people.  That’s why I got involved.  I want to be someone people can count on.  I never want to forget that life is an opportunity.  It’s a blessing to be in it and every day is a chance to be remembered, through kindness.

Ami found FamilyWorks while visiting the library.

I was in a new a country. I was so lonely.  I was still learning English, but I found my community there. They didn’t all look like me, but they supported me in that rough time and I wanted to give back. That’s how I ended up volunteering at the food bank. You know you’ve found your place when you can give and receive in a meaningful way.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Running for FamilyWorks Food Bank

The following message was sent to us from Conrad Smith, a longtime Food Bank volunteer, who has organized a community campaign fundraiser for FamilyWorks. Just like Conrad, you too can support FamilyWorks in your own unique way! Visit the Choose Your Own Adventure page to see how your fundraising idea can benefit FamilyWorks.

Hello FamilyWorks Community. My name is Conrad Smith. I’ve been around this community for a while, helping out in several capacities. I’ve been a runner for YEARS and after many miles and lots of good living, had to have a full hip replacement.conrad smith 3

That was in December. Well, I’m already back to running and now I can run up to five miles just five months after getting a brand new hip. I figure the best way to give back is to put my new hip to some fundraising use, so this July, I will join 11 others from my company (Corporate Visions) to run the 196 mile, Pacific Northwest Passage relay from the Peace Arch to Langley (Whidbey Island).

I’ll be raising money for my favorite local charity  – FamilyWorks in Wallingford. I’ve attached a more recent picture of me helping out in the food bank, but if you go to the link below, you’ll get to see a picture of me that may bring a smile (or a laugh). Please take a look at the link and donate what you can – thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Heartfelt Thank You to St. Benedict’s from Will Lewis, FamilyWorks Board Member

This past Sunday, I was given an opportunity to talk about FamilyWorks to the congregation at St. Benedict’s. Deacon Roy Harrington and others in the parish have partnered with us over the last two years and are focusing on the issues of hunger in our community. I was able to thank them for their continuing support and gave them an overview of how their donations are being used and their impact maximized at FamilyWorks.

will lewis blog post pic

FamilyWorks Board Member Will Lewis

St. Benedict’s parish is exactly the kind of community partner that FamilyWorks looks for and appreciates. The parish and school have a strong sense of social justice. They have been a continual presence in our neighborhood since the church was founded by Benedictine monks in 1906. They are eager to make a difference in our community.

Thank you, St. Benedict’s. You are a leader among all those who make Wallingford a more compassionate community.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized