Featured Donor: Eleanor Wasson

Eleanor became a member of RAN in its inaugural year in 1986. Over the years, her many small donations culminated into a grand total of more than $3500. In one of her last great acts, Eleanor made RAN the beneficiary of her 100th birthday presents, helping RAN net over $12,000. Eleanor is a perfect example of how one person can make such a great contribution to RAN – over time and through others.

Tell us a little about yourself

Before Eleanor Wasson’s retirement in 1975 she was the Department Head at the UCLA Center for Health Sciences in Los Angeles and the Director of Volunteer Services for 20 years.

When she was 94 years old, Eleanor formed the women’s activist group, WomenRise for Global Peace, at her home in Santa Cruz, California. She started this wonderful group in response to George Bush’s drumbeat for war and wanted to bring together concerned women to talk, share, and develop opportunities for taking action in the world. Read more about this wonderful group here: http://www.womenrise.org/

Before she left us just a few weeks after her 100th birthday, she spent her day with friends, writing letters and reading.

What environmental issues concern you most?

The environmental issues that affected Eleanor most are the destruction of forests and the pollution of our waterways, but especially the ocean – it affects the lives of creatures which disturbed her very, very much. Eleanor didn’t believe we could continue killing and still survive.

Eleanor felt that our government spent as much on building arms, fighting wars and maintaining the military across the world as could be spent to feed, house, and educate all the people in the world.

Eleanor knew and admired RAN’s staff and their work, referring to us as “her favorite environmental organization.

What inspired you to give to RAN?

Eleanor was inspired by the work of RAN for years. She first became interested because our newsletter was simple and straightforward, and told her all she wanted to know about the work we were doing to save the forests and the world, names and addresses of the greatest polluters and destroyers of the forests which enabled the reader to write in protest.

What has convinced you to invest in RAN at the level that you have?

Eleanor believed that we are running out of time to save our magnificent forests. She felt that we all must take action and protect our environment in every way possible if we are to survive.

Eleanor supported RAN because she loved the forests and believed RAN does more than any other organization she knew of to save them.

For one of Eleanor’s last great acts before her death, again, at the marvelous age of 100, she invited and encouraged all of her friends to make a donation to RAN in honor of her birthday, rather than send her a present. She felt that this is a great way to support the work of the organization and suggested that others do the same

How did you first hear about RAN?

Eleanor first heard about RAN when she heard about Randy Hayes and read his newsletter. She was a member in RAN’s founding year of 1986 and continues to support our work through her friends.

What do you think distinguishes RAN from other environmental organizations?

Eleanor didn’t try to compare environmental organizations. At a party she hosted at her home just before she died, she was excited by the diversity of good work represented by the activists from many organizations and walks of life that were all working to make a positive difference. She said, “There are enough people in this room right now to change the world. I really believe that.”

Eleanor believed that if enough people focused their intentions towards doing important work in service to the environment, we would indeed be successful and the future of the Earth would be assured. Eleanor was a great optimist and believer in the inherent goodness of people, and was a force of positive affirmation throughout her life.

What would you like other donors, activists, and the general public to know about RAN?

All that we are doing to save the forests.

Well, Eleanor, we’ll continue the good work to save the world’s forests, and we’ll forever hold your memory, and your mission, in our hearts. – the staff of RAN

You can read our blog post about Eleanor’s passing here: understory.ran.org/2008/04/09/eleanor-wasson-the-passing-of-a-great-activist-and-friend/