The Mary Fund
This Fund was started and is being built by past VCF Board Member M. Elizabeth Kennard to honor her grandmothers, Mary L. Powers and Mary J. Kennard; and her mother, Mary P. Kennard, all teachers who understood the value of education and promoted it professionally and personally.
Two of the "Marys" for which the Mary Fund was named were widowed at a young age and forced in the 1900s to raise their children alone on their teaching salaries.
"Where would they have been without their educations?" asks Liz Kennard, granddaughter of Mary l. Powers and Mary J. Kennard, who, unlike so many women of their time, were educated. "That was in the late 1800s-early 1900s when most women did not have the same opportunity," says Liz, who established the Mary Fund in 2004 to honor her grandmothers and her own mother, Mary P. Kennard, all teachers who understood and valued education.
"They promoted it personally and professionally," says Liz, herself a Mary—Mary Elizabeth—who initially followed their lead into teaching before changing careers. "They were teachers to us (grandchildren) too, explaining things, reading and setting standards."
The Fund makes grants with a preference for helping women in the Valley or the greater New Haven area to pursue their educations. "My mother and grandmothers always valued education as a way to grow, and this Fund will help others to do that," says Liz, pointing out that each woman was able to meet the challenges of raising children and working full time. And each believed in the importance of always continuing to educate oneself. "Education is not necessarily a ticket to a job. It is an end in itself."