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Why I Give | Sam Pizzigati

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Karabelle Pizzigati
Karabelle Pizzigati

The actuarial tables tell us that women in the United States who hit the age of 60 will on average live on to 85. My late wife Karabelle (left) only made it to 65. Cancer cost her two decades. Karabelle had big plans for those years.

“I’m going to be an outrageous old lady when I grow up,” she used to quip.

And Karabelle, a lifelong advocate for America’s most vulnerable kids and families, had plenty to feel outraged about. According to the latest United Nations statistics, the United States—the world’s richest nation—ranks only 26th internationally in children’s well-being.

Karabelle can no longer labor to reverse that shameful reality. But her family and friends have realized that we can see her life’s work continue—through the University of Maryland.

We’ve endowed a professorship in advocacy for children, youth and families, and that professor will be developing an initiative that will bring to College Park—for intensive summer learning experiences—men and women working for kids all across the United States. For Maryland students, the initiative will bring opportunities to live and study together and intern with child advocacy groups.

Those of us who so cherished Karabelle couldn’t be more excited about this initiative’s potential. And we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we’ve received from the University Relations office. The staff there hooked us up with College Park faculty and administrators and helped us all evolve some rough ideas about continuing Karabelle’s legacy into a truly innovative academic program.

The experience we’ve had, I’m hoping, will help many of our fellow baby boomer do-gooders understand just how much they can accomplish with the University of Maryland's support. They can make a contribution to building a more just society that will endure way past the end of their lifetimes. And in the process, they can help build our university into even more of a national—and global—pacesetter!

Sam Pizzigati, now retired from the labor movement, writes on issues related to economic inequality. Karabelle Pizzigati was a member of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees and a past president of the Terrapin Club.

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