Mary Thielemier grew up in a household that valued sharing with others. She joined her parents as they volunteered at church and watched as they made donations to family and local charities. Now she's created her own giving style based on long-term investing.
"I formed a limited liability partnership and the beneficiaries are my three favorite charities, including Americares," says Mary, a native of Orange County, California, who now lives near Phoenix, Arizona.
After traveling around the world twice while in college during the 1970s, Mary decided to expand on her family's giving habits. On a shipboard college (now called Semester at Sea), she met people who needed the fundamentals for life. "It was quite startling for someone who had grown up in the lap of luxury in the U.S.," says Mary of her time in Africa, Asia and South America. "I realized that there is something I can do. Those trips planted that seed—and the seed has continued to grow."
Mary enjoyed researching ways to invest. "I had a couple of good years of financial income," she says. Rather than be the sole beneficiary of her investments, Mary decided to form the partnership. A requirement of Mary's LLP is that the assets are in the market. "I actively watch it and monitor those assets," she says. "Every time I look, I think of the organizations the funds will help."
Americares is Mary's global health charity. "I value how resourcefully and creatively Americares uses its resources to help people in need," she says. "And Americares is very thrifty with fundraising. The cost of operations is not more than 3 percent."
Mary is very active in the Phoenix area—she's president of the local volunteer board for two hospitals, working with over 400 volunteers. Her church built a clinic in Mexico and she's seen the impact of that one clinic, which only reinforces her admiration for Americares work. "Americares is so conscientious of ensuring that medicine gets to the people who need it," she says.
Americares global health focus also aligns with Mary's philosophy. "In the early 1970s people didn't really think globally. I was global before global was cool," she says laughing. Mary believes that Americares represents the true spirit of America—its generosity. "Americares is sharing that with the world and sending the message about the best of America," she says. "To me it's one view I want to have of the country I live in."
The stock market might go up and down, but Mary's devotion to service is steady. "A friend told me that the purpose of life is a life of purpose," says Mary. "Americares is part of that purpose for me."
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