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Elizabeth (Liz) Atkins was a joy to everyone she touched during the all-too-brief 23 years of her life. Her family and friends deeply loved her intellectual curiosity, her beautiful voice, and most of all her gentle spirit. Referred to playfully as Mother Teresa Liz, she was a fierce supporter of the less fortunate and those who had to deal with the hardships of being excluded. Liz herself had to deal with the most profound hardship, though she never complained and her focus was always on others, not on her own condition. She was diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor at age 2, but overcame her deficits to become an honor student and went on to graduate from Sarah Lawrence College, despite developing a new cancer in her junior year.
To continue to honor Liz’s life and her desire to help those in need, we are establishing The Elizabeth Atkins Presents Fund in partnership with Aaron's Presents, an innovative grants program designed specifically to empower children in 8th grade or below to dream up and carry out a positive project that benefits others. In the process, children learn that they have something unique and valuable to give to the world at every age and every stage of life, and that giving of themselves for the benefit of others brings happiness, healing and purpose. Liz’s legacy will live on through these children and the numerous people positively impacted by their creative and thoughtful acts.
Children apply for an Aaron’s Presents grant with an idea for a project that will help others, and the organization provides up to $500 worth of materials and services as well as the mentoring and guidance needed to maximize successful completion of the their project.
For example, one sixth grade grant recipient started a chess program at the Youth Development Organization, an after-school enrichment program in Lawrence, MA, and taught 6 elementary-aged kids how to play and enjoy chess. Those kids have taught other kids, and the chess sets are used every afternoon at that program.
A third grade student partnered with a homeless shelter to provide Halloween costumes for children living in transitional housing.
100% of this fund will go to purchasing materials and services to support the children and their projects. Aaron's Presents organization will post links to each project funded by The Elizabeth Atkins Presents Fund so that you can learn more about the kids who are being touched by Liz’s life and how their projects are making a positive difference in the world. The fund will have no time limit – you can contribute at any time. An average project costs $250, so we have an opportunity to touch many people through this honorary fund. Contributions of any amount are appreciated.
Thank you for your support,
Rick and Gerri Atkins