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Karen Smith’s life journey has spanned multiple callings and continents. Reflecting on her path, she credits her experience at Curry with nurturing her personal growth, which in turn led to a passion for helping others and giving back.
“I loved it at Curry,” says Karen, who grew up on Long Island and now lives in Great Barrington, Mass. “It was a great academic fit, the classes were small and it gave me a chance to succeed. It allowed me to find myself, and I made lifelong friends along the way.”
A communication major with a minor in secondary education, Karen went on to teach for several years at a school in the Berkshires for emotionally disturbed youth. “It was rewarding to help these students and make a difference in their lives,” she notes. “But it was tough to make a living as a teacher back then.”
That led to a career shift, using her skills as an educator and communicator to help people learn about and secure financial protection through insurance. She became an independent broker and later ran her own agency.
Now retired, Karen is the co-founder of the Sawa Sawa Foundation. Established in 2012, the Foundation works on community-building and enrichment programs in Kenya, with an emphasis on self-sufficiency and sustainability. This passion to help address very basic needs caused by poverty was inspired by Karen’s 1998 visit to Ghana as part of a mission team. That experience later led to volunteering in Kenya, and ultimately to the creation of the Foundation.
Her passion to give back also extends to her alma mater: Karen decided to include Curry as a beneficiary of her estate and join the 1879 Planned Giving Society. Honoring the year of the College’s founding, the 1879 Planned Giving Society celebrates all that Samuel Silas and Anna Baright Curry envisioned to serve the education needs of Curry students. With each generation of alumni, families and friends, the Curry community renews their legacy, and estate gifts help to provide support for that mission.
“Curry prepared me for everything that came next, and I want to give back,” explains Karen, who over the years has never stopped volunteering and supporting others. “It’s important to step up in gratitude for what the school has done for us.”
Learn more about becoming a member of the 1879 Planned Giving Society and how you can support Curry the way Curry supported you, or call the Institutional Advancement and Alumni Engagement office at 617-333-2121. Estate gifts can include bequests, life insurance designations, and IRA distributions.