BJ You Done Good: Even in Her Passing, Betty Jane Giles Empowers Women and Girls
By Donna Haghighat, chief executive officer at the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts
A few weeks ago, The Women’s Fund received a letter from a law firm with a large check enclosed. A friend and donor had passed and had thoughtfully included The Women’s Fund of Western MA in her Will. Her name was Betty Jane Giles but she preferred BJ. Funny enough, BJ never shared her intentions with the Fund. We would have welcomed her to Joan’s Circle–the group of WFWM friends who have made provisions to donate to The Women’s Fund through their Wills or through making WFWM the beneficiary of other assets.
As we have been reminded through recent events, the fight for gender equity will be more than a lifetime’s work. In making this gift, BJ indicated that she understood this. One of BJ’s favorite ways to celebrate someone’s good deed was to offer “you done good.” We couldn’t help but think that BJ herself has done so much good with this gift.
BJ likely made her intentions to leave a legacy many years ago. She could not have known just how well-timed and needed her gift would be. None of us could have predicted the severity and damaging effects of this pandemic–impacts affecting particularly women, disproportionately those of color, who are the majority of those displaced from the paid workforce due to layoffs or their inability to juggle paid work with their work at home to ensure their family’s security and progress. However, women like BJ understood that there would always be a need for resources to advance women and girls and to preserve those advances.
Some of us have tried to channel our anxiety around these times in planning. I count myself in this category. I have joked that my anxiety has turned this into a “plandemic” (my drawers and cabinets have never been more organized). One good thing to come out of my own “plandemic” is the initiation of the process to update our Wills. We are now working with an attorney (female, of course) to update our Wills. In so doing, I will be leaving a legacy to WFWM and joining Joan’s Circle. Like BJ and Joan and so many other women, I understand that this is more than a lifetime’s work.