"Our Giving, Our Stories" in Celebration of Black History Month
By Malynda Madzel, Chair, WGC’s “Our Giving, Our Stories” Committee
In 2021, as we celebrate Black History Month, we continue to honor the leaders who unselfishly gave of themselves to fight to ensure equitable access to basic necessities like food, housing, health care, education and civil rights. In the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County our programming pays tribute to that legacy.
Leveraging the WGC's "Our Giving, Our Stories" daily profile series of 31 Howard County philanthropists, published in August 2020, we continue the celebration of the contributions and sacrifices of our citizenry. We were honored to highlight these inspirational stories of women who discussed what moves them to give their time, talent and financial resources to enrich the community.
In presenting these stories, we were moved to look back at Howard County’s history and found many African American women philanthropists who worked tirelessly to “give back” to their community. These women were instrumental in establishing a culture of giving, despite some having limited resources.
Bessie Bordenave, President of the Harriet Tubman Foundation, gave us names of the many women who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Howard Countians during the time of segregation and Jim Crow. She said, “These women are my ‘Sheroes.’ They gave so much of themselves in order that we would have opportunities that many of them did not have.
When I think of each of them, I reflect on the many sacrifices they made for others—their time, guidance, support, love and much more for our community. I can only say ‘Thank you, Thanks a Million!’ Your legacy will continue to live through us as we continue to tell your stories to this generation and the generations to come. You are indeed, the ‘Wind Beneath Our Wings.’ Peace and Love.”
Some of the names are recognizable, and some are not, however, these are just a few of the women who left us with a legacy of giving that uplifts our entire community:
Mrs. Ruth James was
Mrs. Mildred Woodson was
Dr. Wylene Burch was
Rev. Mrs. Aileen Moore was
Mrs. Eva Anderson was
Mrs. Maggie Brown was
Mrs. Leola Dorsey-African American, Political Activist was
“I personally knew and respected all of these ladies" said Joan Hash, Native Howard Countian, Philanthropist and WGC Black Philanthropy Month Honoree about these historic women. "In their own way, they were all soldiers in the fight to uplift the Black community by leading the way in the areas noted ... they had vision and determination in their quest to make a difference for future generations and we have all benefited by their efforts. As we reflect on Black (S)heroes during this Black History Month, I cannot thank the Women’s Giving Circle enough for recognizing them because by raising up their names, you raise up all of us who remember and try to live up to the examples they set ... they stand as 'Giants' in the history of Black women in Howard County and their contributions should never be forgotten."
"The Women’s Giving Circle is humbled by the contributions these courageous women have made to our community. We truly “stand on their shoulders” having learned from them the values of leadership and cooperative giving to better the lives of women and girls” said Barb Van Winkle, WGC Advisory Board Chair.
The WGC is proud to recognize the women who came before us and we look to their example to improve our own philanthropic endeavors—focusing our collaborative giving on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“We are inspired by these amazing women who led to way by doing the important work of elevating the Black community during very difficult times" said Hina Naseem and Judy Smith, Co-Chairs of WGC's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. "They are truly our role models as we commit ourselves to advancing the diverse voices in our community.”
As we acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month, we invite you to highlight YOUR (S)heroes on the WGC's Virtual (S)hero Mosaic Wall that is part of our upcoming Virtual Annual Celebration on March 8, 2021, where we are celebrating (S)heroes Among Us, and discussing "Democratizing and Diversifying Philanthropy Through the Power of Collective Giving" - please join us!