In March, we distributed $6000 from the memorial fund to four organizations that we know Suzy and Sarah would love...
Love Front Porch, Homewood, Pittsburgh, PA
Vanessa L. German, ARThouse , 7703 Hamilton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Also on Facebook: Love Front Porch
Rationale: I first read about this in O, Oprah’s magazine. I assumed that, after a story in Oprah’s magazine, the organization would be inundated with donations, etc. I asked Matt Buchholz to ask around and see what he could find out about Love Front Porch and the founder, Vanessa German. Matt said that Vanessa is well-respected and, as far as he could find out, the publicity in O hadn’t turned Love Front Porch into a cash cow.
What appeals to me is that this is exactly the kind of organization Suzy and Sarah would have loved. It is grass-roots. It is local. It serves underserved kids. It serves kids who have been exposed to violence and grieving and sorrow at high rates, and yet those kids probably do not have access to mental and emotional health care. It allows for a creative outlet for girls and boys. And the house is as beautiful as the mission of the house. I know many of those who donated in honor of Suzy and Sarah are from the Pittsburgh area and their generosity will be well served here. Ms. German seems to follow the idea the priest shared with us about Suzy and Sarah’s lives: our sisters lived their vocation. They did what they were meant to do. May we all be so lucky.
LOVE Takes Root Based in Iowa; serving Haiti
Also on Facebook: LOVE Takes Root
Rationale: Kevin (brother) is familiar with the Wilkerson family and shared information with us about the Fundraiser 176 Project. In order to build a secondary school in Haiti, the organizers of LOVE Takes Root hoped to find 1000 people to donate $176 each. We appreciated that Dr. Wilkerson is a doctor and saw healthcare, sustainability, and education as serious issues to be addressed. Suzy and Sarah both appreciated organizations with attention to health and learning. While LOVE Takes Root works with lots of organizations, including church groups, the organization’s mission is NOT religious. It is humanitarian. Sarah and Suzy would have appreciated that.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence http://www.bradycampaign.org/
Also on Facebook: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Rationale: The killer of Sarah and Suzy had access to a firearm illegally. While many organizations have been created in response to tragedies (e.g., Moms Demand Action, Sandy Hook Promise, etc.), the Brady Campaign has been a steady force in lobbying for reasonable gun laws. This is also a bit more personal: when Katie drove to Pittsburgh the night of Feb. 7, her friends Robbie and Sean Kirkendall accompanied her, no questions asked. Sean works for the Brady Campaign and was an amazing asset in those first few weeks, helping us navigate through the unimaginable. He helped Katie talk to the detectives; helped our family draft a statement for the press; and has basically kept in touch with Katie over the past two years, serving as a reliable and known resource. We are grateful for his expertise and would like to make a donation to the Brady Campaign in Suzy and Sarah’s honor.
Read about Suzy and Sarah and the #ENOUGH campaign, a project by the Brady Campaign and My Intent.
Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids (Eastern Iowa) http://www.crittercrusaderscr.org/
Also on Facebook: Critter Crusaders
Rationale: If you knew Suzy or Sarah, you'd know that they loved animals and felt strongly that animals deserved care and love. As a vegan, Sarah didn't wear (or eat) any animal products, such as leather. Suzy believed all animals deserved a loving home, thus explaining her three or four or five cats at any given time. Critter Crusaders take on the most difficult cases of some of the most ignored animals. When I sent the donation to Critter Crusaders, I wrote: "The dignity Suzy and Sarah afforded everyone they met carried over to their beliefs about all living creatures. They believed that all animals deserve the best care possible." Critter Crusaders offers that care.
Questions about the fund should be directed to Christy Wolfe, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com