Donor Deborah Milkowski: Embracing Our Country’s Complexity

My love for the national parks was sparked in college when I moved from upstate New York to California. Being a young college student with a tight budget, hiking and camping with friends quickly became a favorite hobby.

For me, over the years, traveling to national parks, became more than beautiful experiences in nature … it became an opportunity to learn about our country’s history. These parks represent all of America and tell our collective story. Knowing our history is so important because it brings meaning to our surroundings and the willingness to protect those surroundings.

Pullman National Monument in Chicago represents the creation of Labor Day. Stonewall National Monument in New York is the birthplace of the LBGTQ civil rights movement. Sometimes it seems we try to hide the more complex and difficult aspects of our country’s past. So, I appreciate the National Park Foundation’s efforts to preserve that history and tell the whole American story. I truly believe that if we can better understand our history, we will grow in our ability to respect our fellow citizens and our planet.

The national parks are a symbol of who we are as a nation. It’s the collective we that is important. The parks make me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself.

I am leaving a gift to the National Park Foundation in my will because with just one gift, I can have on impact on the environment, wildlife, and our American story. Many people ask about family and yes, I’m taking care of them, too. My assets are divided 50% to my family and 50% to the charities that will carry on my values.

When I think about the solitude and peace I felt as I watched the sun drop below the horizon at Joshua Tree National Park, I wish for everyone to have such a meaningful park experience. I’m honored to do what I can to make that dream possible. It is such an easy thing to do that no one should wait.

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