90th Birthday Project Spreads Philanthropic Goodwill

For her 90th birthday, Mary Ruth Hord hatched an ingenious plan to give and help others to give, and she helped some causes at Wake Forest Baptist Health along the way.

In 2020, Hord celebrated her birthday by sending 90 people $90 each. She asked each person to donate to a charity of their choice in her honor. She also enclosed a postcard, asking those she contacted to tell her what they did with the $90. The responses inspired her to write a letter back to those individuals who joined in the giving.

“You have helped many people and brought me much joy!” Hord wrote. “Your choices reached from the homeless on the street corners of Winston-Salem to foreign lands.”

Gifts ran the gamut and included contributions to Brenner Children’s, Wake Forest Baptist’s COVID-19 Response Fund and the health system’s Mask the City initiative. A number of people turned the opportunity into a challenge gift initiative and matched Hord’s $90 with a gift of their own.

“Oh, what a list of good deeds!” wrote Hord, who is a patient of Kathryn E. Callahan, MD, associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist.

Said Callahan, “I found her whole experiment deeply moving.”

If you are interested in arranging a similar giving initiative, please contact the Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations at philanthropy@wakehealth.edu or 336-716-4589.