These values are fundamental to FIC donor Jackie Redpath. She and her husband Skip have lived in Arizona since 1987, when they left Chicago after a particularly harsh winter.
Skip, who was in law enforcement, and Jackie, who has a finance background, both worked for the City of Mesa. They also were able to retire fairly young.
“We were very fortunate to have the resources and opportunity to retire early,” said Jackie. “It’s important to me to give back now.”
Jackie gives both her time and financially. She volunteers — at least prior to COVID — in hospice as a senior companion and at Sky Harbor Airport as a travel navigator. One particular moment while volunteering at the airport is a perfect example of Jackie’s generosity.
Last year, she helped a stranded family fly home to Cincinnati during the holidays. Their grandmother purchased tickets for them to travel to Arizona. However, a weather cancellation left them unable to return home with the same airline for several days. They had little money and no credit cards to stay or fly home sooner on a different airline.
Jackie purchased return tickets for all five family members, leaving everyone involved stunned that a stranger would take on such an expense.
“Everyone was crying,” recalled Jackie. “I was crying, the family was crying, the reservations staff were crying.”
Jackie still tears up when she thinks about it. The family offered to pay her back, but Jackie said it wasn’t necessary. She was happy to help, especially because the ticket costs were covered by money Jackie’s mother shared through her estate.
Jackie enjoys giving locally and having a local impact. Her sister Robin, who serves on FIC’s board, introduced Jackie to FIC about five years ago. She has been a loyal FIC donor ever since.
Jackie appreciates the importance of parents who are in “the system” having an advocate. The process is frustrating and time consuming, requiring patience, tenacity and a willingness to keep moving forward despite multiple obstacles.
The peer-to-peer support that’s core to FIC’s mission and services is a critical factor for Jackie’s support. This lived experience, which the majority of FIC staff and board members have, helps guide families through their reunification process.
“Without an advocate, many families don’t stand a chance,” Jackie stressed. “FIC helps give these parents a voice and helps them develop their own voices.”
Robin keeps Jackie updated on FIC events and activities. Jackie especially enjoys when she hears her support makes a difference for families, such as when Jackie helped pay a car repair for a FIC family. This gave the mom, the family’s breadwinner with a disabled son and husband, the ability to get to work.
“It’s hard to explain how joyful it is to be able to help others, knowing I’ve made a difference in their lives,” Jackie said. “To see the looks of gratitude and joy on their faces, that joy is contagious.”