Born in Montana and raised in the northwest, Elizabeth Ruth Wallace worked for the U.S. Army, helped her husband run the family pharmacy in California, operated travel agencies and traveled the world. Shortly before she passed away in December 2016, the 92-year-old Wallace asked her heirs to share her estate with causes and organizations that reflected her values. Redmond-based Hopelink has received a $1 million gift from the fund.
Wallace’s niece Cheri Ryan, who serves as the fund’s trustee, said the family made a concerted effort to choose locally run organizations they knew would make the best use of the money.
“We wanted to make a real difference in the community,” Ryan said. “At Hopelink, you can see the impact and feel the impact of the services they provide.”
Ryan first learned of Hopelink through a friend who volunteers at Hopelink’s Redmond food bank. She said her friend shared stories of clients who are working but still struggling to get by; families who are only one paycheck away from being homeless. Together, Ryan and her friend, Katherine Johnson, toured the Bellevue center and Ryan was impressed by the facility, the grocery store-style food bank and the programs offered. Earlier that month, Ryan signed up the living trust as a presenting sponsor for Hopelink’s October fundraising luncheon with Dr. Jill Biden.
The family’s generosity didn’t end there.
“We came away from the luncheon so impressed,” Ryan said. “The stories that were told were very powerful; there was a beginning and an end to their journeys. They showed that Hopelink is really making a difference.
“It was a great example of what’s possible, and we all came away thinking, ‘you guys are doing some good.’”
That day, Ryan wrote another check to help provide Hopelink services. And later, as the family continued to make decisions on distributing the trust, they remembered the two former clients from the luncheon who had shared their inspiring stories. They thought of “Aunt Bette” and what mattered most to her and to other seniors, and the people they’d met at the Bellevue food bank and the others who weren’t so fortunate.
And then they decided to make a significant investment in helping more people attain stability and exit poverty, through a $1 million donation to Hopelink’s Campaign for Lasting Change.
Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas said the donation will help build a stronger, healthier community, and will change lives for many years to come.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this very generous gift,” Thomas said. “The support of the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust will enable us to help people in crisis meet basic needs, while helping others get back on their feet and begin their journey out of poverty.
“And as we put the finishing touches on our new Redmond center – which will provide services to 5,000 people every year – this gift will literally open doors for those we serve, while paving the way for us to reach even more people in need in the future.”
To date, Hopelink’s capital campaign has raised $18.4 million toward a $20 million Phase I goal, and has already renovated and expanded housing in Kenmore and opened a new, larger service center in Shoreline. This summer, Hopelink will open a new integrated service center in Redmond.