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Giving Back to Support Greatness

Giving Back to Support Greatness

For Maggie Cary '60, giving back is both a matter of principle and a lesson begun in childhood.

Raised with a strong Catholic faith, she believes in helping the most vulnerable and taking care of the needy. Her parents led by example. Her mother, a homemaker, was the person in the neighborhood to whom everyone went to for advice or help. Her father, a railroad worker for 47 years, always stepped up to help his employees when they had personal challenges.

The birth of Maggie's oldest niece, who has Down syndrome, sparked her desire to get more involved.

"She's the love of my life. We bonded the moment she was born," Maggie says.

Their strong bond prompted Maggie to begin volunteering. For many years she taught the sacraments to people with special needs and volunteered with special needs children at Honey Creek School in Milwaukee.

For the past 20 years, she has volunteered five days a week at Milwaukee's St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care. Though she recently decided to start taking Fridays off, every other weekday morning you will find her opening up the cafe, helping to feed clients and then spending time with her favorite client — a 38-year-old woman who is blind and in a wheelchair. In addition, Maggie created the Maggie Cary Employee of the Month Award to recognize St. Ann's staff.

"I have a philosophy that I can't do great things, but I can support people I know who have the intelligence and the energy to do great things," she says.

Her commitment to making a difference also extends to Alverno, which she has supported every year for 27 years. She says that at Alverno, she learned not to accept the status quo.

"Do your best and don't be afraid to change if you aren't satisfied with what you are doing," Maggie says.

That lesson has served her well. Maggie began her career as an elementary school teacher, then went to work for the welfare department, providing food and clothing to clients, before becoming a legal assistant for Foley and Lardner.

At Foley, she worked on the estates and trust team, which made her realize that annual giving was as important as leaving a legacy through her will. When she became the beneficiary of her aunt's estate about 10 years ago, she set up the Marjorie Maurice Endowed Scholarship at Alverno in her aunt's memory. She also made sure to include Alverno in her own will.

"I wanted to see what my gifts are doing. What good is it after you're dead?" Maggie says of her annual giving. Yet planned giving also has a benefit: "With my aunt's scholarship, my giving can continue after my death, too."

She's had the opportunity to meet recipients of her scholarship and also works with two Alverno alumnae at St. Ann. Those experiences have reinforced her decision to give back to Alverno.

"They are strong women and that's what impresses me," she says. "I want to help continue to educate strong women — women who know what they want to do and are out to change the world."


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