Leaving a Legacy

Underground Railroad has been blessed by many loyal and generous donors who want to sustain it for years to come. Have you considered supporting Underground Railroad with a planned gift?

Mari McKenzie, Donor since 2006





I’ve been affiliated with Underground Railroad as a board member and volunteer since 1983. When I get asked about why I’m “passionate” about domestic violence, I envision a woman with her child and her dog, hunched in the corner, waiting for the next rage. That is not acceptable. It makes me angry. In addition to not being safe or respected, women who are victims of domestic violence have no choice. My passion is my belief that women need to have the opportunities to make choices. I had to fight for many of my opportunities as a woman – to play sports in high school, to major in accounting in college – and while it’s gotten better, we’re still not there yet. I’m as excited for a mom who stays home, as a mom who works, or one who does a little of both- as long as the path she takes is her choice. Underground Railroad programs help give that freedom of choice back to the survivor after it’s been taken away by someone else. Emergency shelter provides a place where she can be safe, first and foremost. But even if a survivor is not staying in emergency shelter, she can access support like counseling or court services to take that first step to regaining her independence.  Underground Railroad’s prevention education helps teach students that they’re allowed to have an equal voice in their relationship, and that messaging starts even younger in the Girls on The Run Program. I’ve been able to sit on their advisory board and participate in some of the after school activities with the girls, and it’s wonderful to see them learn to use their voice, and watch their confidence grow. Valuing the voices and choices of girls and women is the key to ending the violence that happens against them.  And I will continue to contribute – whether its time or talent or money – until it goes away.

A planned gift may take various forms and is a wonderful way to offer support. Gifts may be made in a number of ways and should be designated to Underground Railroad, Inc., Saginaw, Michigan (tax id number 38-2241312).


Underground Railroad accepts gifts of cash, securities, and real property made through the following avenues:

Gift in a Will or Trust
Remembering Underground Railroad with a bequest is an excellent legacy for you and your family


Retirement Plans
Tax-deferred retirement assets are attractive assets for charitable giving. Items include IRAs, 401k, 403b plans, pensions, etc.


Charitable Gift Annuity
Make a gift to Underground Railroad and, in exchange, receive a guaranteed lifetime income


Charitable Remainder Trust
Receive stable and secure income for a period of years based on value of trust. When the trust terminates, the remainder passes to Underground Railroad


Charitable Lead Trust
The reverse of the charitable remainder trust.  The income from the trust is first paid to Underground Railroad (leading the way).  After a specified number of years, the trust allows you to pass on the assets to your heirs


Life Insurance
Name Underground Railroad as the beneficiary of your policy or donate an active, paid up policy

Mary Sue Barry, Donor since 2006




I first heard about Underground Railroad and its mission in January 2005. I thought the cause was important and I signed up to volunteer.  This was the year of Hurricane Katrina. Seeing the devastation that occurred in New Orleans compelled many people to help in their own communities. My first job volunteering had me unloading an overwhelming amount of donations from two massive trucks. We received diapers, formula, food, bottled water, and clothing. Our small donations room was stuffed to the gills. It was the first time I realized the generosity that exists in Saginaw County.  After serving as a volunteer, I interviewed to become a Board Member, and later served as the Community Development Manager for several years. I have always felt a strong connection to the mission of Underground Railroad, and felt proud to represent the agency in such a concrete way. I felt like what I was doing added value to the world. Although I now live in Florida, I still make an annual donation to the agency because I believe so strongly in its mission and work. When I visit Michigan near the holidays, I make time to help gather and sort donations for the Adopt A Family program. I recently completed a visit where I had the opportunity to meet with survivors, listen to their hardships and successes, and write their stories to be shared with the community. Perhaps even more importantly, I have included URR in my will to help ensure the legacy continues past my lifetime. More people in the world are impacted by domestic violence than any other “cause”, but there is no real cure. Underground Railroad does an amazing job providing services for these victims. Underground Railroad has positive visibility and is accessible to victims who need safety and services. They stay current on the issues affecting survivors and adapt to what changes. From focusing on trafficking to providing a space for pets, they recognize the barriers that survivors face when trying to get help. And they do everything they can to eliminate those barriers and empower that survivor. I’m proud to say that Underground Railroad is part of my history and my legacy.

Underground Railroad Empowerment Society

The Underground Railroad Empowerment Society was created to honor those Underground Railroad supporters who have chosen to leave a legacy for the future of Underground Railroad by making a planned gift.

By notifying us of your planned gift, we will welcome you into the Empowerment Society.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Annual recognition event
  • Annual recognition in our newsletter
  • Personalized tour of Underground Railroad
  • Invitations to exclusive Underground Railroad events
  • Knowledge and comfort that the work of Underground Railroad will continue during and after your lifetime.


Please let us know of your planned gift by completing the attached Underground Railroad Empowerment Society membership form.

M. Christine Church, Donor since 1996

I came of age at the time when the women’s movement was coming into focus. There was Affirmative Action and quotas to help women and minorities get jobs and education. There was more talk about women’s rights.  I got interested in domestic violence services before I was involved with URR, partly because of my own family. It was something that was only talked about quietly.  Back then we didn’t have the words, “domestic violence.”  Incidents of family violence were called an accident or a “bad day for dad.” Alcohol, stress, trying to find rational reason why someone would hurt someone they love – they’re still excuses we’re arguing against today, but it’s getting better. We now have terms and verbal skills to talk about it. It’s a crime now. I met Valerie Hoffman, CEO of URR, in the mid-nineties. I’d returned to school to get my MSW from University of Michigan. Until then I hadn’t known anyone whose purpose it was to change the perception of domestic violence and how we would address it as a community. She invited me to join the Board of Directors. Being on the Board at URR, I realized how well this non-profit was fulfilling their mission statement. They were providing not just the community awareness, but the services – the actions- to stop the abuse. It’s a passion and a commitment, and I’ve seen so much progress in the community because of Underground Railroad. Seeing this progress, combined with my own passion about violence against women, Underground Railroad was the only possibility for my primary planned giving recipient. I feel better about myself because I’m doing something.  I know that the best predictor of the future is the past.  I’m not as powerless as I felt as a young woman when I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, how am I ever going to help? What will ever change?”  URR has done so much to create that change while I’ve been a part of the organization, and I believe they will continue that for a long time.

We are here to answer any questions you have about Underground Railroad and planned giving. We can look at your situation together with your attorney/financial advisors, helping you find ways to support Underground Railroad while still maintaining your financial security.

If you have questions, please contact Christi Birchmeier, Executive Director, at 989-399-0007 or by email at christib@undergroundrailroadinc.org


Underground Railroad does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. The information above is not offered as legal or tax advice. We urge you to consult professional advisors on all legal, tax, or financial matters, including gift planning considerations.