Meet Rachel. She’s a 17-year-old high school student who loves animals and is anxiously awaiting a year filled with college applications and graduation celebrations.
But, Rachel isn’t your typical teenager. She is the youngest board member of her family’s foundation and traveled with her mother, aunt and Global Fund for Women staff to Colombia to visit grantee partners.
“The trip was hard for me,” Rachel recounted. “There were times when I was sad to see people suffering, but there was a lot of hope and excitement.”
Rachel and her mother, Nina, made strong connections with Global Fund grantees in Colombia. Rachel receives Facebook updates from young grantees in Barranquilla, and Nina stays in touch with a grantee and professor of law at a Bogota university.
Rachel’s interest in “alternative” vacations is no surprise. In 1989, her grandfather, Marvin, started their family foundation in Washington, DC. Marvin’s daughters, Nina and Wesley, currently sit on the board.
“My father always treated us as people whose ideas mattered,” reflected Nina. “It was an easy transition from our childhood dinner table to the foundation board as current events, history and social problems were what my father most liked to discuss with us.”
Now, the family gathers to share ideas about the future of their foundation.
“We disagree like all families do, but we are most in agreement about giving to women and girls,” said Nina. “Educating young girls and making a long-term commitment to them correlates directly with change.”
So, investing in the Global Fund was a no-brainer.
“From what I’ve seen in my lifetime, the backbone of the family rests with women,” said Marvin, who turned 85 this year. “If there is an underclass in the developing world, it’s usually women. I suppose I’m an idealist who wants to help the underclass.”
Marvin’s idealism comes from his parents, who came to the US with very little and worked hard. Even when they didn’t have much, there was always enough to help someone else. That spirit lives on in his children and grandchildren.
“It’s been wonderful working [in the foundation] with my sister, daughter and father,” said Nina. “It has drawn us really close.”
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