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Helen Eliason: As a life ends, a legacy of generosity is revealed

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As 2017 came to a close, so did the life of Helen Eliason, one of the DCF’s truest friends and greatest supporters.

On Dec. 27, the day after Helen died, her friend and adviser Dr. Linda Poole emailed the many nonprofits that have benefited from Helen’s generosity and will continue to receive support from her legacy gifts to the DCF.

Linda’s words capture Helen’s contributions better than any tribute we could write, so with Linda’s permission, we are sharing it with you here:

Helen Eliason passed away on the evening of December 26th. Her value of children’s literacy was unprecedented, especially because she wasn’t an educator or someone who works daily with teaching others to read. Helen did realize that if a child could read and communicate, then the child had hope and a future.

Her philanthropy was genuine. She wanted nothing in return. She didn’t want her name in lights or on programs and buildings, although she qualified for more than anyone would ever know.

Did you know that she paid for the parking lot at the Fraim’s Boys & Girls Club so that it would be safer and green? That she supported dozens of children’s gardens to make sure that children understood the value of the land and where food came from? That she renovated the locker room at the Boys & Girls Club? That she established a scholarship program that supported dozens of adult students to return to school and increase their abilities to move up in the work force? That she paid for children to attend extended time programs where they would get additional instruction in reading? That she sponsored educators to attend conferences to improve their skill set and expand their knowledge especially in regard to teaching reading?

I could go on for pages with listing the facts of her philanthropy. She would not let me do this while she was here on earth and probably isn’t too thrilled with me now as she looks down from heaven!

I felt it was important to all of you to know that Helen has made sure that your organizations will benefit from the Fund for Children’s Literacy grants in PERPETUITY for the simple requirement of working together as literacy leaders AND an annual reporting of progress each year. I know of no other fund that requires so little and gives so much.

I ask that you honor Helen by recommitting yourselves to the children of Delaware. That you find within yourselves the same passion and focus that Helen demonstrated. That you use her gift as an example of true philanthropy and reach out to those who need adults to make sure that they have a positive future.

Thank you for making Helen’s wishes your reality.