All in the family

Siblings Margaret and Peter Gorman and their mother, Candace Young

What builds self-esteem, promotes togetherness, and helps others? Giving as a family. Here’s how one family built an intergenerational tradition of philanthropy.

Peter Gorman first dipped his toe into philanthropy 10 years ago with a swimsuit competition. The high school senior took to the stage in his swim trunks as a contestant in a mock beauty pageant held by his school to raise funds for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. He did not walk away with the title of “Mr. Hudson’s Bay,” but he did raise $5,000 to help Doernbecher kids – and inspired his mom to follow suit.

“I saw firsthand how hard the students worked to raise money from the community,” said Candace Young, Ph.D., mom to Peter and his sister, Margaret Gorman. The pageant is just one way that students at Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay High School support kids at Doernbecher. In 2012 the school’s cumulative giving through the Kids Making Miracles program totaled nearly $824,000. Candace, a Doernbecher Foundation board member, was so proud of Peter and his classmates that she wanted to honor them when Doernbecher remodeled its inpatient cancer wing. She donated funds for a hospital room and joined forces with Peter and Margaret to raise money for additional rooms. Hudson’s Bay students raised $90,000. The comfortable, well-equipped rooms were dubbed the Hudson’s Bay Eagles Wing, named for the school’s mascot.


The making of a family tradition

Peter’s pageant was his first taste of independent fundraising, but it followed a family tradition that his mom had long cultivated. “I make charitable gifts every year,” Candace said. When Margaret and Peter were in middle school, she started talking with them about where their gifts could help most. One year, she gave them the responsibility to do research and decide where part of their donation should go. “It sent the message that you should help your community, and you don’t need a lot of money to do it,” she said.

Margaret heard the message loud and clear. “Adult actions get across in a way lectures don’t,” she said. And as a middle school teacher, she speaks from experience.

“My mom could have talked a lot about giving, but what Peter and I remember is her actions. When she saw a need, she started working to fill it. If you want kids to give, you need to give yourself and just bring them along.”  - Margaret Gorman

Candace also made sure her children donated time to help others. In middle school, they volunteered at soup kitchens. In high school, they went on humanitarian missions to Mexico and Romania.

Helping other kids inspired Peter – and a tour of Doernbecher brought home the impact that contributions of any size can make. “Seeing the kids really touched me,” he said. “Going in, the pageant was just for fun. Coming out, I was ready to go to the mat to raise money for kids.”


Giving is good for you

Candace encourages other families to create traditions focused on helping others. As a clinical psychologist, she knows that giving contributes to mental and emotional health. “Children can be taught to give and care, and it’s an important source of self-esteem,” she said. It can also bring family members closer. Giving as a family helps reinforce family unity. “At the same time, it reflects individual values as we discuss what’s important to each of us.”

This year, Candace, Margaret and Peter are planning a joint gift to a Doernbecher research program in collaboration with the Oregon National Primate Research Center. As always, they are doing their homework, reviewing proposals to find a project that resonates with all of them. Shared giving also increases the impact of their gifts. “We’re amazed at the change we can effect, just by pooling our funds,” Margaret said. “And it’s easy to come together around helping children in need.”