Nurturing community through an endowed fund

How the Legacy of a Beloved Son Lives On

As a young mother, Mary Maselli never anticipated she’d be able to give more than her volunteer hours to causes she cared about. “When we were a young family, barely making the house payments, we were just trying to get by. But we were fortunate that as we tended to the business of life, money and circumstances accumulated and now it’s time to share that.”

Now retired, Mary lives full time in Santa Cruz County after years of commuting to the East Bay. She’s finding ways to build community, from serving as a Santa Cruz Symphony board member to hosting a fundraiser birthday party for local causes.

Mary’s son David loved Santa Cruz County too. An avid biker, he knew every nook and cranny of it. As a passionate gardener and writer as well, David built a rich life for himself in Santa Cruz—a life cut tragically short in May 2020 when he died of a pulmonary embolism at age 50.

Sustaining a Legacy

A central part of David’s life was the support he found through National Alliance on Mental Illness Santa Cruz County (NAMI), particularly the NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group, a free, peer-led group for adults, and one supported by our Community Grants program. Diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder while a student at UCSC, David longed for and needed the connection of community whether it be family, friends, or organizations. He found that community with NAMI.

“David did the work,” she remembers, “he talked with his therapist, wrote, and took medication, but you also need a community to support you and that’s what NAMI’s peer-to-peer program did. It sustained him.”

When David died, Mary wanted to find a way to sustain the community that so sustained him, and she turned to the Community Foundation for help.

A Partner in Getting Philanthropy Right

“Philanthropy takes time and thoughtfulness,” says Mary. “Not only is there the instrument you use to invest, but you need to think about your motivation and values. You have to have the right match.”

After a long career as a financial advisor and educator, Mary was now following the instructions she had given others for years. She needed to find an institution that would steward her investment responsibly, but also have the knowledge and trustworthiness to ensure her philanthropic vision was cared for with integrity. “That’s the Community Foundation’s passion and expertise,” she says.

Now, every year in perpetuity, the David M. Pereira Fund earnings will support grants to mental health organizations in Santa Cruz County.

Giving for Lasting Impact

Mary knows there are advocates for giving away money all at once because organizations can always use immediate support. “But I didn’t want it to be a one-time thing,” she explains. The way she sees it, annual grants from David’s fund will be a continuous ‘drip’ of financial nourishment, honoring David’s spirit of selfless giving.

“I have peace of mind because the Community Foundation provides me with the trust and confidence that David’s fund will be guided with fiduciary skill and that my intentions to donate to mental health services will be met long after I’m gone.”

For Mary, sharing with her community—and with David’s—is reflexive. “For David and I, community means people you care about and people who care about you. It’s a place where you aren’t a stranger. Where you can pick up the phone and ask for help and guidance. It’s home. David was nurtured by community and so am I. So now, even with David gone, his community can be nurtured in return.”

Your generosity can continue to improve Santa Cruz County for generations to come.

Discover how you can plan today to give forever.