Donor Profile: Carrying out a Mother’s Legacy – the Cahill Family
Community members who donate are key to our success. Read how two generations of one family have made a difference.
Virtually every day, an adult or child coming to Marin Community Clinics’ Optometry Program is diagnosed with a serious vision problem that could easily be corrected – if only they could afford eyeglasses. When brothers Jay, Jerry and Ned Cahill and their sister Ann Fidanque learned about this need, they stepped up to the plate and created the Cahill Eyeglass Fund.
The Cahill family has a long history of supporting Marin Community Clinics. Their parents, John and Peggy Cahill, raised their family here. “They had had a special place in their hearts for Marin,” says daughter Ann,”and were very aware of people who were struggling with food, housing and access to health care.”
Family commitment begins with Mother’s Gift
“It all started with Mom,” explains Jerry Cahill when recounting the family’s support of the Clinics. Peggy had been a donor to the Clinic’s annual campaign for several years and became more deeply involved when plans were being made to develop the Clinic’s first site in San Rafael.
The existing building required extensive – and expensive – renovations to convert it to medical use. A $10 million Capital Campaign was launched and a major gift from the John and Helen (Peggy) Cahill Fund helped get it started. Jerry also got involved, serving on the Capital Campaign Committee, raising major gifts and serving as a construction advisor. (He and his wife Kathy King have continued to donate to the annual campaign and other capital campaigns.)
The new clinic opened in 2008; several years later, an opportunity came up to purchase the building, and Peggy once again made a major contribution. Today, the San Rafael Clinic continues to be one of Marin Community Clinics’ four major sites.
Cahill Eyeglass Fund created
Several years ago, when Peggy died at age 96, her children wanted to honor her commitment to the Clinics and the medically uninsured. Later in life, she had developed a number of health issues herself – including macular degeneration, which had left her legally blind.
All four siblings saw the Eyeglass Fund as the perfect fit for an additional commitment. They know through their mother’s experience how important it is to have good vision, and wanted to support others who needed help – even with something as seemingly simple as eyeglasses.
“Creating the Eyeglass Fund seemed a natural way to both remember our Mom and do something useful,” says Jay Cahill. It’s a sweet thing for us, given Mom’s own vision problems and her history with the Clinics,” concluded Ann, “It’s blessing to us and to others.”
An exciting postscript
The Fund, which pays for eyeglasses when a patient cannot afford them, was originally intended to be a one-time donation. But, when the Cahill family learned that the Fund was depleted after just 1. 5 years, it became clear that the need was greater than anticipated.
This year, they generously decided to add to the fund each year for another five years. As a result, close to 1,000 more low-income residents will receive eyeglasses.
Our heartfelt thanks to the Cahill family for the difference they are making in people’s lives!