After Virginia Anthony had her daughter Helen in 1991, she retired from her career as an economic developer in Louisville, Ky., and decided to work for free.
“When I was on maternity leave and decided not to go back to work, my mother said there are two things to consider — there are people that need help or you can be a person that is bored,” she said. Anthony decided to focus on helping those in need.
Stewardship has been a way of life for Anthony, and it is something that was expected of her and her husband, Dr. Michael Anthony, of Cary OBGYN, when they were growing up. They have instilled charitable giving in their daughter Helen and son John as well.
“My parents have always been involved. Mike’s parents are the same way,” she said. “We both grew up in church and as kids, we knew we could make a difference if we got involved.”
Today, she is finishing her three-year term as president of the Session at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian church in Cary. At the helm, she has helped to establish a library and computer center in Guatemala, handle all personnel issues, conduct weddings at the church, raise funds for Stop Hunger Now and supports a myriad of other projects at the church.
“Help the least of these; that’s the way I was raised,” she said.
And she has no problem asking people for help, or their money. She is a wiz at fundraising, which is why she’s served as fundraising committee chair or chair of the board for organizations like WakeMed Foundation, Wake Teen Medical Services, Cary Visual Art and Cary YMCA.
“There’s no trick to it. You just ask,” she said. “I’m always trying to get people to part with their money.”
Particularly close to her heart is her job on the board of the WakeMed Foundation, the charitable resource for WakeMed Health & Hospitals.
“I love the vision of that hospital (WakeMed),” she said. “It doesn’t turn away anyone regardless of their ability to pay.”
As a longstanding member of Cary YMCA, she supports its We Build People campaign and volunteers two afternoons a week tutoring kids from low-income families after school at Brier Creek Elementary with her daughter Helen.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet,” she said.
Through her work one-on-one with a second-grader, she is privileged to watch her transform not only her math skills, but eating habits as well.
“I love that Wake Teen is tackling the obesity issue,” Anthony said.
One challenge for an altruistic woman like Anthony is the ability to say no. “I have learned when people ask me to do something and I think it’s a chore, then I have to say no,” she said.
Balance is important. She is an organized person who finds time to exercise, which is her time to think and work out problems. She also makes time to travel with her family.
“Memories of our trips together are the best legacy to leave for our kids,” she said.
Anthony is inspired by motivated and wise people who cross her path. For instance, a dear friend of hers from Louisville who just turned 100 years old and hasn’t lost her sense of humor inspires her to live life to the fullest.
“She has always told me the key to longevity is to have younger friends,” Anthony chuckled. “She is the most up-to-date person I know.”
And there’s noteworthy Cary matriarchs like Daphne Ashworth, whom she admires for her can-do attitude.
“She sees a need in the community and develops a way to meet that need,” Anthony said.
The Anthonys moved to Cary when Helen was 3 months old after looking at a number of areas across the country where Mike could practice medicine once it was time to leave Louisville. Virginia immediately fell in love and knew she found a home for life in Cary.
“The neat thing about Cary is there are so many opportunities,” she said. “It’s not entrenched in tradition like your typical Southern town. This is an area with a lot of forward-looking people.
“This area is always accepting new people and new ideas.”
Anthony has seized those opportunities to impact lives in amazing ways in Cary, and with a heart of gold that keeps giving, her charitable work is undeniably priceless.
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