Verona Lynam/Dufresne Resident and Resident Fund Champion
“I grew up knowing we were poor, and I hated it,” says Verona Lynam of her childhood in Calvin, OK where, she says with a laugh, “Half are kin to the other half. If you weren’t kin, that’s who you married.”
Sitting with her hands gently tending a sparkling water, Verona says that although she can laugh about her upbringing now, those lean years were very hard.
“It was not an easy life,” she recalls, adding she wanted a different future and to never be poor again. Her mother gave her the perennial advice: work hard, learn and make something of yourself. An English teacher gave her the tools: encouraging Verona to compete for a 4-year college scholarship, which she earned.
This ticket out of Calvin took her to Oklahoma City University and a Bachelor of Science in Business. It also gave her a lifelong mindset of the power of what one person can do for another.
She married an Air Force officer, had three children, lived abroad and eventually went back to school for a master’s degree in Business Management. Verona’s education led to a career in management oversight for 25 Red Cross chapters. During this time, Verona was in charge of shelters after the Loma Prieta, CA earthquake of 1989. She closed the last one on Christmas Eve. “I’m proud of it,” she says of her work.
“Along the way, I found out what really meant something to me. Where help is needed, maybe I can help. Someone helped me. Without the scholarship, I have no idea where I would be.”
When Verona’s husband retired, he became involved with the local Boy Scout troop and discovered some of the scouts were not attending camp. To amend this, 17 years ago, she and her husband developed an endowment to send each scout to summer camp.
Verona, who also endowed a scholarship at her college, says her generosity is about what touches her heart, adding she doesn’t need for anything anymore, which makes it easy for her to put her money where her heart is.
“The person who is the giver must believe in the cause and hopefully be passionate about it. Passionate enough to want to support it with time and the gift of money. Small and large,” she says.
Verona moved to Mary’s Woods eight years ago and brought her charities with her. She’s quick to say that Mary’s Woods is not her charity, it is her home. But she makes contributions where she sees a need, such as the Resident Fund.
For Verona, it all circles back to her English teacher, Josie Washichek. Verona gives so others can have what was given her. She says, along the way, she hopes everyone can experience that feeling of helping another person.
“If I could gift you something, I hope that’s what it would be.”