July 8, 2016
As the Community Manager for The/Studio, I read hundreds of “Customer of the Week” interviews, looking for customer stories that will inspire and grab the attention of our community. Marilyn Fordney makes the perfect “Customer of the Week”. She turned adversity into personal and professional success. Here is her story:
The/Studio: Introduce yourself. Tell our readers a little bit about who you are!
Marilyn: I am a Japanese-Irish-American interned during World War II. My family was rescued by an Irish priest, Father Flanaghan of Boys Town, Nebraska. Due to this experience, I became an overachiever and on graduation from high school began to work in the health care field as a medical assistant. I was invited to teach what I learned on the job eventually obtaining credentials. In 1975, I began writing for W. B. Saunders (Elsevier Science) and have been writing for 40 years. My textbooks won 4 national awards and helped my husband and I establish two nonprofit foundations. First in 2002 The Fordney Foundation and secondly in 2007 the Havasi Wilderness Foundation.
The/Studio: What does your organization or business do?
Marilyn: These nonprofit foundations are 501 (c) 3. The Havasi Wilderness Foundation’s goal is to help protect and preserve natural ecosystems through education and awareness to present and future generations. The Fordney Foundation is involved with the promotion of ballroom dance sport. Because we ordered items from you pertaining to the Havasi Wilderness Foundation our answers will be confined to that nonprofit foundation.
The/Studio: What have you learned since starting The Havasi Wilderness Foundation?
Marilyn: There is much to learn about nature that the public is unaware of and we need to keep the balance on planet Earth.
The/Studio: What about The Havasi Wilderness Foundation are you most proud of?
Marilyn: We reach out to elementary school children to educate them about wildlife and plants so they will learn the importance of keeping the balance. An additional program we fund is at California State University Channel Islands where we are involved with the research the university students do at Santa Rosa Island. We also fund a program at the California Science Center the new home of the Space Shuttle The Endeavor that allows the public to enjoy the exhibits at no cost.
The/Studio: What are some of the greatest challenges you face with your organization?
Marilyn: Trying to fundraise so that we can reach out to more elementary school students and university students.
The/Studio: Where do you see The Havasi Wilderness Foundation in 10 years?
Marilyn: We hope to be able to reach twice as many elementary school and university students to enhance understanding of global climate change and effects of air pollution and their impact on daily lives.
The/Studio: What type of legacy do you want to leave?
Marilyn: We hope that both of our nonprofit foundations will carry on after we leave this life and continue to help future generations.
The/Studio: What is the story behind the custom product that you produced with The/Studio?
Marilyn: The embroidered logo patches for the Havasi Wilderness Foundation we hope to use on items to promote our nonprofit foundation.
The/Studio: Do you have any promotions you would like to offer our community?
Marilyn: Yes, please visit our website every week to educate yourself by reading our blogs and seeing the photographs and video links (www.havasiwf.org) and also visit us on Facebook. Most photography at both of our websites is done by my husband, Sandor “Alex” Havasi who came from Hungary.
The/Studio: Do you have any upcoming events that our community members can attend?
Marilyn: We offer video presentations to schools, bird club organizations, and community organizations, such as Optimist Clubs, Lion Clubs, and so on.
The/Studio: Is there anything our community members can do to help?
Marilyn: Spread the word about our organization, our website, and if possible donate what you can so we can increase our programs to reach out to more of our next generation. Visit us on Facebook.
Pictured are Panda, Marilyn Fordney, and Sandor “Alex” Havasi