Linda Stirling has taken her philanthropic efforts to an unusual place — one that most of us would rather never visit: a coroner's office.
Stirling works with the San Diego's coroner's office to organize a grief support group for mothers who are dealing with the death of a child. After hearing late last year that the chaplain at the local coroner's office was looking to expand its support capabilities for families, Stirling recruited fifteen mothers who had at one time in their lives lost a child. Stirling knows more about this experience than she'd like to. About twenty years ago, she lost her 19-year-old son in a private airplane accident.
The women currently meet in Stirling's home for crisis training. “The idea is being able to take our own experience and help and anticipate with any arrangements the mother might need,” Stirling says. Over Easter weekend, the chaplain gave her the contact information for a mother whose 7-year-old daughter was struck and killed by a car after she'd bought ice cream from an ice cream truck. “There are no final words or moments in situations like that. But here is the mother willing to reach out. And I want to help,” Stirling says.
Stirling has long supported other charitable giving efforts, including a San Diego-based micro-finance group for both local and international women, but she's calling 2010 her “zero year.” She won't be taking on anything more than this new effort to help grieving parents. It's a project that's helped her realize the importance of using one's own experience to help others, she says. “There is nothing more valid than that,” she adds.
The former million-dollar Merrill producer says her professional and philanthropic roles play off one another. “I am a better listener to clients. I'm not just listening for a client's wealth and success. I want to hear the whole story about children, grandchildren and any special needs there. It's about being more sensitive to the whole family dynamic,” Stirling says.
Firm: RBC Wealth Management
City: La Jolla, Calif.
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