A Unexpected Gift
Last month the Autism Society of Washington received an unexpected gift from an estate. We learned early in the summer that we were named as one of the beneficiaries in the estate of Marie J. Waage O’Leary and Michael Vern O’Leary in honor of their son, Thomas Martin O’Leary.
When the estate closed and the check came it was accompanied with the sweet story reprinted below:
This is a family story of love, personal challenges, trust, stewardship and endless blessings. It is a story of community support, stewardship and inspiration of those who gave so much to their heart’s calling.
Marie was born in Ulsteinvik, Norway on February 3, 1918. At the age of 30 she immigrated to the USA with the goal of becoming a citizen. She worked hard to write and speak the English language and attain her dream of citizenship. This was such a joyful moment in her life. She also made a humble living as a cook and housekeeper.
It was then she met and married Michael O’Leary, a career truck driver who was raised in Sequim, Washington. They were blessed with a little boy, Thomas Martin O’Leary, over a year later. Tommy consumed both Marie and Mike’s life. Marie became active with the local services in town and called upon them when she needed direction. You see, Tommy had a mild retardation and Autism. A condition that was just in the early discoveries of treatment in the 50′s.
Michael died when Tommy was 21, so now it became even more important for Marie to connect with the community. So much was given to Marie to help her with Tommy. She was always full of gratitude to her community of social agencies and her community of friends that helped her so much. Tommy died in 2004. He was 51 years old and had lived in a state agency throughout his adult life. Marie adored Tommy and loved her son despite his handicap and position. She would take Tommy for walks at Green Lake; listen to their favorite music together and they both loved to ride the bus with each other. If you would mention pizza, a smile and excitement would show through Tommy and they would sit and eat that pizza with great satisfaction. Marie never left him. Shae always cared and served him with her motherly love and devotion.
It is with gratitude and love that Marie, Michael and Tommy now “pay it forward” with the remainder of their estate.
We are in awe of their devotion and truly humbled reading Marie’s story and looking at the beautiful page of photos that came with the letter. They walked the path that so many of our families are on. Their sustaining devotion, never letting go, even as their children become adults and live elsewhere is such an inspiration and a validation of what we do to support our loved ones with autism.
There are no perfect words to truly honor the humble and steadfast devotion of this mother and express thanks for this incredible gift! The estate gift will go a long way to help us reach our goals as an organization. We are truly humbled, and can only offer our simple Thank You to the O’Leary family for this generous gift.
Resource & Events Calendar
Statewide listings of
Autism Society of Washington Southwest Chapter invites you to visit with Santa!- THIS SUNDAY
Vancouver Pizza Company
Sunday, December 8, 2013
11:00am- 1:00pm – photo with Santa
Correction to prior post – our event ends at 1:00pm
Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza slice and drink special for $4
Vancouver Pizza Company
2219 Main Street
Please RSVP- firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-852-4555
Thank you to all our Employee Giving Programs! You are our financial rock!
- Adventist Medical Center
- Employees Community Fund of Boeing
- Fidelity Charitable
- Microsoft Matching Gifts Program
- Regence Employee Giving Program
- United Way
- Washington Combined Fund Drive
Your help is needed to strengthen our mission in these challenging economic times. You can support us in a number of ways:
- Sponsor an event
- Make a donation on-line now
- WA Combined Fund Drive (Charity #0315604)
- Donate through your local United Way
- Corporate employee giving programs
- Leave a lasting legacy through your estate
Please consider becoming a member and volunteering with ASW or with one of our local Affiliates.
We need volunteers!
The Autism Society of Washington (ASW) is recruiting for volunteers and board membership. We have several flexible opportunities for involvement. If you have the time and energy, we welcome your interest. Learn more here.