Mary Henning has a confession to make. She has a very hard time asking people to donate to a cause, even if it’s something she believes in with all her heart—like Horizons at CA.
“When I was a little girl, I couldn’t even ask people to buy Girl Scout Cookies,” she says, laughing. “The only reason I sold any is because I cried!”
But for the past four years, thanks to Henning’s willingness to overcome her reluctance to ask, students in Horizons have enjoyed a variety of activities supported by the Henning Health and Wellness Program, which was created by Henning’s sister, Elizabeth Boland.
“Mary has been passionate about Horizons for so many years,” Boland says. “I am not a child care expert, but I am aware of the benefits of both early education and the importance of caregivers in the lives of children, so I wanted to support what is already a terrific program.”
‘This was their golden ticket’
Henning’s connection to Horizons goes back to the very beginning, when the first class of Kindergartners arrived on the CA campus from Knapp Elementary. As the school nurse at Knapp with a strong background in social work, she worked with teachers to choose the children who could most benefit from Horizons and the families that would commit to sending their children across town on a school bus for eight summers.
“It was hard in those early years, because you wanted to help everyone,” Henning remembers. “Like Willy Wonka, this was their golden ticket. You could see how Horizons changed not just individual lives, but also uplifted families and the entire community.”
Henning joined the board of Horizons almost from the first day of its inception and continues to serve. Through her years at Knapp, she became increasingly involved in developing activities that promoted health and wellness.
“I am a firm believer that besides being literate, you must have physical, social, and emotional health,” she says. “If you don’t, you will not live a fulfilling life.”
‘It’s for my beloved Horizons program’
In 2015, Henning faced her own health challenges. In conversations with her sister, the idea of a multi-year gift to Horizons, honoring Mary, was born. Boland had listened to her sister talk about Horizons for many years, andknew that Horizons was not a one-time day or activity, but a program that could fundamentally foster the progress of children from Kindergarten through high school.
“Mary has always wanted to help children, and Horizons does that with a committed staff, a wonderful facility, and a clear view of the mission,” Boland says. “Some gifts feel abstract. This feels tangible because the children will take something from it. I have respect for Mary’s articulated advocacy for what works.”
Thanks to the Henning Health and Wellness Program, Horizons students have been able to try a variety of enrichment activities, including kickball, cooking, paddleboarding, kayaking, tae kwon do, biking, bowling, lacrosse, yoga, and racquetball—all of which makes Mary Henning so joyful.
“The gift didn’t need my name,” she says. “It’s for my beloved Horizons program. You don’t often get a chance in your lifetime to see the long-term impact of your intervention. But every year, I see Horizons children who are now adults—and in some ways big, in some ways smaller—each of them represents their own unique miracle.”