Donor Highlight: Helen McStravick

Helen McStravick’s commitment to caring for those in need is not only implemented currently through her fund with Community Foundation Sonoma County, but will span beyond her lifetime. Her legacy planning will extend the reach and impact of these gifts well into the future.

As a girl growing up in the 1920’s with an Irish Catholic mother, Helen was drawn to the Church and a life of service to others. In the early 1950’s, she became a nun, went on to receive a master’s degree and spent the next fifteen years in Honolulu working with pregnant teenagers and orphans.

By 1970, her beliefs had shifted away from some core Catholic teachings. “I just couldn’t say divorce and birth control were wrong,” she says. Helen made the difficult decision to leave the Church. She moved to San Francisco and began working at a mental rehabilitation center. She rekindled a friendship with a high school classmates and fell in love with her friend’s brother, Harry McStravick. Harry’s connection to her past made their marriage fuller and more wonderful and his passion for improving the lives of the homeless and mentally ill dovetailed perfectly with her life’s work.

Harry’s youngest daughter had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and still lives with a severe—and so far incurable— mental illness. With this challenging issue hitting close to home, Helen and Harry focused their giving through a donor-advised fund, the Harry P. and Helen B. McStravick Fund for the Homeless.

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