K Women and Philanthropy
Karen Holtz '93, a single mom working in the insurance industry in Michigan, grew up in Los Angeles, CA. She was not a traditional college student, quitting school at sixteen and then ending up at K at 25. She moved to Michigan to study at Michigan State University (MSU), but struggled in classes of 250 students, so she began looking for smaller colleges. A connection with Professor Sally Olexia, who believed in Karen, helped her to succeed at Kalamazoo College. She is grateful for the chance she feels the College took on her and the way her experiences at K assisted her in reaching her goals. At K, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Hanover, Germany and earned her degree in sociology. Karen went on to earn her master's from MSU in Rehabilitation Counseling. She has been a member of the Stetson Society since 2006. "As for my philanthropic generosity," says Karen, "I am not a rich woman; I am a single parent who feels that K College offered me an opportunity so unique that whatever remains in my estate, I would gladly turn over to the place that was responsible for a pivotal point in my life."
Continuing a pattern of giving she started with her husband, Marian (Hall) Starbuck '45 contributes to multiple organizations and enjoys being philanthropic. She has volunteered at Bronson Hospital, through her church, with her children's school, and in the legal field as an attorney's wife. Learning from family at a young age and her training as a social worker, she sees volunteers as critical for many organizations. Giving back "makes me feel I'm here for a purpose other than just for me." She explained: "I'm making a difference in the world." In 1998, she and her husband Charles, who graduated from K in 1948, created the Charles and Marian Starbuck Scholarship. "The College will always have a special place in my heart," says Marian. "I grew up there and developed long lasting friendships. I feel like I'm giving back what it gave to me." Working with friends from her class as a class agent was a "labor of love," Marian says. She also has had the opportunity to get to know current students and appreciates hearing about their experiences. "I will always be interested in the College, and it will always be a part of my life," she added.
A strong desire to give back has always been a part of life for Susan (Stuckey) Thoms '70. "Giving of time and service is as important to me as giving of monetary value," she says. As Associate Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences for the University of Michigan, Thoms has traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to train and work with other doctors. She has also served on the board of the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired, volunteered for vision screenings at Focus: HOPE, worked with low vision support groups, and volunteered for a camp with the Salvation Army for over 30 years. When it comes to monetary giving, she and her husband David Thoms '70 sometimes give to their own unique interests separately, but they give jointly to the arts, museums, cultural programs, and Kalamazoo College. They are members of the 1833 Society and became members of the Stetson Society at its inception through arrangements in their trusts. Susan's experiences at K provided "terrific preparation for life" she says. She felt well prepared for medical school. "I was exposed to other cultures and was able to get a sense of what I wanted to do and what track I wanted to follow." She appreciated the highly accessible faculty and small class sizes. In supporting K, she wants to allow students to have the same experience.
When it comes to her philanthropy, Terri (North) Giampetroni '83 looks for causes she believes in to support. She appreciates when she can see the impact of her gift. She and her husband also give to Habitat for Humanity and The Nature Conservancy. As an attorney who works in estate planning, Terri feels like it is harder for those who do not have children or family members to support. "I feel like there's a large array of places to choose from," she says. "I give to Kalamazoo College because it was a turning point and made such an impact on my life," she says. Terri has been a member of the Stetson Society since 2004. At K, she feels she experienced other cultures in a way that was not available to U.S. students at the time. "Back then, we weren't exposed to news from international sources the way we are now," says Terri. When she came back from study abroad in Claremont-Ferrand, France, she felt like she had "jumped over a canyon that others hadn't experienced." In giving to Kalamazoo College, "the first thing that I did was include ‘K' in my estate plans," says Terri. "I work with financial planners, but I can't always be as generous as I want in my lifetime. With my estate plans, I know that my gift comes after any other obligations and won't take away from anything else."
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