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Minister commits $100,000 to WEF with planned gift

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Nearly 25 years ago, as the founders of the Women's Endowment Fund were recruiting their first donors, they met with generous women from all corners of the community.

Business executives, grassroots volunteers and city leaders alike joined forces to support the fund, with more than 100 women ultimately becoming founding donors.

That's why the Rev. Dr. Sandy Selby – a lifelong advocate of women's causes and a former colleague of WEF founding mother Marie Covington – chuckles when she recalls she wasn't on that original list.

"I wasn't one of the founding donors because they didn't ask me," she said with a laugh. "I have known and admired Marie Covington since we worked together at BFGoodrich in the early 1980s, but apparently she didn't think of asking me."

In the years following, Sandy says Marie "made up for it – and then some" by nominating her to serve on the board of Akron Community Foundation, where she saw firsthand how the Women's Endowment Fund was changing the lives of local women and girls.

"Much of my 18-year career at BFGoodrich was in strategic planning roles, and I was very impressed with the vision, focus and stewardship I saw in the Women's Endowment Fund," said Sandy, who left the corporate world to enter the field of ministry and now serves as the associate pastor of Furnace Street Mission and as on-call chaplain at Akron Children's Hospital.

Sandy made her first gift to the Women's Endowment Fund in 2000 during a challenge grant campaign that catapulted the fund past the $1 million mark. Thirteen years later, when WEF was embarking on its "For Women, Forever" campaign to raise $2.013 million by 2013, then-President Tracy Carter approached Sandy about making another gift.

"As I recall, Tracy told me they were still a little more than $50,000 short of their goal, and I said, 'OK, then I will give you $50,000,'" Sandy said. "Since I had never been a major contributor to WEF, I think Tracy was stunned. But she had the right message at the right time, and WEF's track record made me confident in my decision."

With the help of Sandy's $50,000 commitment – which included both an immediate cash gift, as well as a planned gift through a future bequest – the Women's Endowment Fund successfully reached its goal of tripling the endowment in time for its 20th anniversary in 2013.

Nearly five years later, as WEF approaches 25 years of uplifting women and girls in Greater Akron, fund leaders are once again celebrating this significant milestone by encouraging donors like Sandy to renew their commitment to growing the endowment.

For Marie Covington, it was a long-awaited second chance to ask Sandy for her support.

"She invited me to lunch and asked me to make a commitment to continue building WEF's endowment," Sandy said. "So, in addition to another cash gift, I decided to also make WEF one of the beneficiaries of my IRA."

To Marie's delight, Sandy renewed her commitment to the tune of approximately $100,000, effectively doubling the amount she gave in 2013.

"It was a stretch, but the Women's Endowment Fund is worth it," Sandy said. "At a time when national solutions to economic and health and human services issues seem unlikely, local action is imperative. WEF works in our community on the front lines of human need, and it does so with a passionate, informed and targeted approach."

This year, Sandy will serve on the fund's Grants Committee, where she'll have the opportunity to put her gifts to work in the community.

"Both next year and 100 years from now, through my support of WEF I hope to empower women and girls to live fulfilling, productive and healthy lives and to feel safe in their homes, their neighborhoods, and the community," she said.

Learn how you, too, can change the lives of women and girls in our community forever with a gift to the Women's Endowment Fund at www.womensendowmentfund.org.

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