“Spread your wings when you retire,” advises Lynne Masland of Bellingham.
She has taken her own recommendation. Since retiring as communications director at Western Washington University, Masland, 75, has written a book about the history of the Bellingham YWCA, published a collection of poems, served on the boards of nonprofits and foundations, and helped start the President’s Circle at Whatcom Community College Foundation.
Her keen interest in philanthropy was ignited by a friend, Jean Rahn, who died in 2015. They had worked together at Western, where Rahn was executive director of Western Washington University Foundation and launched a big campaign for donations to the university.
Masland describes the message that Rahn communicated to potential donors as, “Let me help you do something that in your heart you’d like to be able to do.”
That idea changed Masland. She realized she didn’t have to be Bill Gates to make a difference, that a person of moderate means can have a significant impact.
Through Whatcom Community College Foundation, Masland created a scholarship fund for students who are single women, giving a $1,000 scholarship each year.
“It’s not making us eat beans and weenies,” she says. “It’s been more rewarding and more special than I could have ever, ever dreamed.”
Masland asks friends and family members to donate to the scholarship fund for her birthday and Christmas presents. Masland is married to artist Steve Mayo and has two daughters, a stepdaughter, and three grandsons.
“My family understands and shares my passion,” she says.
In her will, she has created an endowment for the Lynne Masland Family Scholarship to make the yearly gift sustainable.
Masland knows what it’s like to be a single woman working to change her circumstances through education. She also understands what a scholarships can offer, beyond the financial help.
“It’s about much more than the money,” she says. “It’s that somebody cares about you. You’re worth supporting.”
Masland has also spearheaded a campaign at Bellingham Sunrise Rotary Club to raise money for scholarships. At first, she organized dinners that brought in contributions. More recently, she has helped with other fundraisers, enabling the club to provide two $2,000 scholarships a year - one at at WCC and one at Bellingham Technical College.
One Rotary scholarship recipient was a woman who married young, had two children, and then divorced at age 20. She came to WCC to train for a better job and ended up fascinated by political science. The woman continued her studies at Western with the hope of going on to graduate school.
Another recipient was a single mother of five children who worked in a low-paying custodial job. She returned to school at WCC to improve her situation and set a good example for her children. In a speech thanking Rotary for the scholarship, the woman said, “You’ve not only transformed my life; you’ve transformed my family’s life.”
Masland relishes such stories, and encourages other people to extend a hand.
“Philanthropy is an opportunity to give back,” she says, “to help people financially, but also to let them know the older generation cares.”
Whatcom Community College Foundation