Giving and sharing resources have always been a part of my nature. I grew up in a segregated environment where people in my community didn’t have a lot — but the little we did have was shared with each other. If you had something to share or an opportunity to help another, you did. You took in relatives who needed to be taken in. You volunteered with the schools, so the next generation had the best chance to thrive. You fought for voting rights to ensure we had a voice. You did what you could with what you had, so it’s always been in my DNA to figure out how to give back regardless of my situation.
For more than two decades, my family and I have supported Massachusetts General Hospital. We became involved because we were patients first, and I was always impressed with the care we received any time we visited. That’s when we started giving to the MGH Fund and kicked off our involvement with the hospital.
The MGH Fund felt like a great place to start because it is a flexible fund, set up to address the hospital’s areas of greatest need. We were not always aware of every need in the hospital — nor were we able to address every need — but we felt comfortable placing trust in the leadership of the organization to put our dollars to work in the most impactful way. We knew the MGH Fund was very important, and we were impressed with the transparency of its priorities — there was no question we were helping where it was needed most.
A few years ago, when my husband, Al, was not in the greatest of health, he eventually entered hospice care at Mass General. During this incredibly difficult time, we were always so appreciative of the care he received and how friendly the staff were, especially the nurses who play such a critical role in hospital operations. When Al passed away, I decided to support an effort in nursing education, so we named the Albert H. Brown Medical Nursing Visiting Scholar Program in his honor. Then, in 2019, I knew I wanted to do more, and partnered with Mass General to establish the Dorothy A. Terrell Endowed Diversity Nursing Leadership Fellowship.
When I decide to give, whether financially or through volunteering, diversity and representation are at the forefront of every conversation. How is my support moving the needle slightly so people of color are exposed to opportunities they wouldn’t be normally? Representation is necessary and organizations must be held accountable for taking the right steps to get it done. I don’t have all the money in the world, but I knew when the opportunity to create the fellowship presented itself, Mass General and I had a chance to invest in diversity and inclusion and not just be another system that pays lip service to it. Representation is important to Mass General, and it’s apparent because the organization will do everything in its power to get it done.
I’m proud of all we have accomplished since becoming involved with Mass General. These last 20 years have proven that philanthropy is not just about the zeroes on the check; it’s about the intention and passion behind the support.
– Dorothy Terrell