Why Give A Legacy Gift with Founder, Elizabeth Park

Elizabeth: Why did I start my work as an advocate?

Erica: Mmhmm.

Elizabeth: And the answer really to that is I was, after we moved here, I was looking for something that I could do. I stopped working and I really didn’t have any idea at all what I was planning to do. In those days. the Seattle Post intelligencer had a column called around the Sound and they used to have volunteer activities and different things that were needed. And so, there was an ad in Around the Sound for CASA volunteers. I knew I wanted to do something that was meaningful. I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference. So, I started volunteering for Family Law CASA when it was a King County program in 1993.

Erica: So, what then drew you to found be part of the founding members and…?

Elizabeth: You can blame it all on Caroline Davis (Founder and First Executive Director of Family Law CASA). We didn’t know each other particularly well, but we have been at least one case together. And she called me one day quite out of the blue and asked me what did I think about trying to start setting it up as a nonprofit? And I said, sure, why not? And I remember that’s exactly what I said (chuckles).

And why did we want to do it for the very reason that we were so disturbed that the program was cut because these children would never have a voice in court if we didn’t do something. It was, it was a long process. So, but we just figured we could do it. And we did. But it took 18 months.

“There are organizations that will receive a bequest upon my death and the only sad part of it for me is not being able to know what happens with it. But I know, for example, with Family Law CASA that it’s in very good hands, really good hands.”

Erica: You said that you wanted to do volunteer work that was meaningful. And so what was it specifically about advocacy for kids in court that resonated with you?

Elizabeth: And I mean, in itself, it resonated because these were children who really needed something. And I was fortunate, I had the love and care that we would all wish to have. And I was fortunate to have it. And I just felt that it’s important to give children a chance. I mean, it was that simple. There wasn’t anything really cranial about it at all. It just spoke to me as something I could do. Um, as a child, I saved every little bird that I found in every little squirrel that fell out of a nest and everything else. And I’ve been a huge animal advocate for my entire life. So, it’s not really unusual that I would then find an opportunity to help children. Really pretty simple. I’d love to make it more exciting than that. But it isn’t. I am a very empathetic person.

I think the hardest thing and I used to hear this from volunteers all the time. Why don’t we know what the outcomes are? Why don’t we have outcomes? Well, we can’t. As soon as the case is done, it’s done, we can’t go back to it. We can’t do any tracing. We can only know what we know from the case itself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could know the outcomes. That, that was a big frustration, big frustration for me too. And I still think about some of the cases I had and I wonder what happened to these kids.

Erica: Which is a great segue to, why did you decide to leave Family Law CASA a legacy gift?

Elizabeth: Oh well, I mean, it’s pretty obvious because I’ve spent close to 30 years being involved with Family Law CASA and it is, it’s something that’s very, very dear to my heart. So really, again, it’s just straightforward common sense. If you’re involved with something, then think how you want to leave your money because you are going to die and where does it go?

Erica: It’s common sense in a practical manner. But also, it sounds like in a more emotional sense, part of your life has been dedicated to bettering other animal lives or child lives. And so, it sounds like it’s a passing on values…

Elizabeth: Absolutely

Erica: …and what you want for the future.

Elizabeth: I believe that we all have to put ourselves out there for others. I can decide how I want to do that. You can decide how you I want to do it and everybody else can decide what they want to do. But it is important for us to be able to share what we have in order to help other people. So there are organizations that will receive a bequest because upon my death and the only sad part of it for me is not being able to know what happens with it. But I know, for example, with Family Law CASA so that it’s in very good hands, really good hands.

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