In the midst of all that’s been challenging about 2020, Empowerment 4 Girls was blessed this summer with a large bequest from the estate of Ina Fennell. I did not know Ina, nor did anyone else in our organization. We are deeply moved by this tangible expression of encouragement and appreciation for our mission to affirm the self-worth of all girls.
Ina worked for Olympia Parks and Recreation until retiring due to cancer at the end of 2017. Her battle with cancer ended on April 17, 2018 and it was her wish that her estate be shared among 5 local nonprofits, including Empowerment 4 Girls. This thoughtful estate planning shares Ina’s financial legacy with the organizations in her community whose work she believed in and that she wanted to support, even after she was gone. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for Ina Fennell.
In planning for this gift in her estate, Ina couldn’t have possibly known how important it would be, arriving as it did, in the middle of a pandemic. This gift came at a critical moment for our young organization as we quickly worked to adapt our in-person programming to on-line and socially distant camps, to ensure our girls stay socially supported and connected during this time of physical distancing to reduce community spread of Covid19.
I am 10 months older than Ina. She and I could have been school mates if we’d grown up in the same rural part of America somewhere. We both became legal secretaries after high school, and moved away from our hometowns after graduation to forge our own paths. She and my mom shared a distant and unknown bond as members of the Rainbow Girls. Ina and I grew up in different parts of rural America somewhere and although we didn’t know each other, we could have been friends. Yet, even without knowing each other Ina and I personally touched each other’s lives through this organization. These small connections build on each other and support the positive changes we all want to see in our small, shared world.
It’s September 2020. Pandemic rages across our planet; fires are raging across the American west; earth’s children are yelling, crying, dying for justice and equality; our mother earth is under assault by those who would enrich themselves, ignorant of the cost to people or planet. Antiquated systems of social order are being laid bare for us all to see how badly it all needs repair, so we can get on with the work of attending to those repairs. We ARE rising to this challenge! Humanity is surging and shifting to make way for a more conscious, compassionate world. Ina’s planned gift to Empowerment 4 Girls is a beautiful expression of the shift of trust to womxn and girls to guide the way forward in the face of our history, to a more just, equal and empowered world for everyone.
Ina’s generous spirit and gift of grace will carry Empowerment 4 Girls through these dark times and beyond as we continue our work to help create a world where all youth are confident, resilient and resourceful.
Blessed be and blessed rest, Ina Fennell.
In deep respect and gratitude,
Empowerment 4 Girls
Ina Davidson Fennell
Born in Brooklyn, NewYork 12-12-1961. She was the third child and her parents were much older (Father 54 and Mother 43) when she arrived. Her Father worked for RCA Radio. She lived in Florida, Kansas, and Roy, WA. Graduated from Yelm High School and attended Capitol Business College to become a legal secretary. Soon after graduating she started working as a secretary for the Olympia Parks & Recreation Department. She would always light up the room and the customers loved her. She retired from the Parks Department 12-31-2017 due to cancer. On 4-17-2018 at the age of 57 she passed away of pancreatic cancer.
In high school Ina belonged to the International Order of the Rainbow Girls and was their Worthy Advisor. She has always been an advocate for girls to be independent and respected. She was independent, owned her own home and two other properties. As a young woman she tragically lost her husband in a quad accident (he drowned trying to cross a river) after being married only a short time. Although she moved on to another longterm relationship it eventually ended. She did not have any children of her own, but loved kids. She herself struggled with some of her relationships. She read many books about relationships and sought counseling to help her understand them.
I think she picked Empowerment for Girls because she felt it was important to build strength and self esteem in girls so they are able to recognize and be empowered to make decisions on what a good and bad relationship looks like.
Ina had many friends and acquaintances and loved her many pets she had over the years. She volunteered helping to put on and decorate at many events at her work and for Senior Services which are both in the the Olympia Center building. Her mother had patronized their services before her passing.
Ina registered kids for activities at the Olympia Center and generously willed money to a program that pays for kids who cannot afford to attend the programs.
She was an avid antiquer and loved collecting anything useful, unique, or beautiful to decorate her home. She was a dreamer full of ideas clipped from magazines in her dream book for gardening and remodeling her home to incorporate all her treasures and antiques.
She was generous and thoughtful ... giving cards, small gifts or flowers to her friends as a thank you or just to brighten their day. She was always up for attending gatherings and social events. She was a beautiful person...kind, funny, and serious.