A Voice from Philanthropy: Celebrating the legacy of the Freddie Mac Foundation

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

“Honoring our Partners, Celebrating our Legacy” was the theme of Monday night’s final gathering of the Freddie Mac Foundation. This culminating event poignantly captured all that the foundation has meant to the community. Program staff Tia Waller Pryde and Renette Oklewicz highlighted the foundation’s impact in a powerful hour of remembrance, from its beginning when Leland Brendsel, former Freddie Mac CEO, shared his vision of a corporation focused on the American dream of home ownership paired with a foundation focused on developing safe and nurturing families.

What especially resonated with me were Tia and Renette’s remarks about the Freddie Mac Foundation’s signature program, Wednesday’s Child.

For years, many talked about the sadness of children languishing in foster care. The Freddie Mac Foundation did something about it. They made the adoption of children a foundation priority. In 1992, the foundation launched the televised adoption program, Wednesday’s Child, in the Washington region, later expanding it to New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago. In 2000, they founded National Adoption Day to raise awareness about adoptions in the country. The next year they launched the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Then they funded the production of a documentary in 2004, The Beat Down Club, that portrayed foster care through the eyes of five youth in the system. The list of initiatives goes on and on: scholarships for child welfare workers, partnerships with sports teams to raise awareness about adoption, the creation of a portrait gallery of children waiting to be adopted that hung in the U.S. Capitol. Their work was coordinated, focused and impactful. Over 2,000 adoptions occurred in the life of the Wednesday’s Child program. But, it was so much more than that. As one young man said when it was pointed out that he had not been adopted even though he appeared on the show twice, “Maybe my appearance led to the adoption of another child. Maybe someone else got a family.”

As someone who started my professional career as a foster care caseworker, I understand the foster care system and the despair of children in foster care. The Freddie Mac Foundation made a difference. Thank you.