As a young mother living in South Hadley in the mid-1980s, Anne Vittoria FP’05 enjoyed strolling her three babies around the Mount Holyoke campus. “I’d tell the two girls that by doing really well in school, they could attend the College and that would open doors,” she recalled. “I thought I was planting seeds for their futures, but it turned out I was planting them for mine.”
By the time her daughters and son were in high school, Anne was a single mother supporting her family. She’d attended college briefly after high school and knew she needed to complete her degree. She also knew she wanted to thrive, not just survive. “That meant having Mount Holyoke College’s name alongside mine,” she said.
Anne’s first meeting with Kay Altoff FP’84, director of the Francis Perkins (FP) Program, and Carolyn Dietel, associate director, was “encouraging and empowering. They told me exactly what I needed to do to gain admission to the program.” Following their advice, Anne enrolled at Holyoke Community College to prove that she still could be a student. In 2001, Anne joined the FP community, where she found continual support and forged lifelong friendships.
As a student, Anne studied music and enjoyed performing with choral and orchestral ensembles, as well as conducting. A generous Mount Holyoke Fund scholarship from an alum helped to make Anne’s education possible — and inspired her future career. When the development office requested that she write a thank-you letter to the donor, Anne says her whole perspective changed.
“Though financial aid made it possible for me to attend Mount Holyoke, I’d never considered where scholarship money came from. When I realized that an alum made this significant gift that was supporting me, I was totally overwhelmed with gratitude. That was my introduction to philanthropy. I knew then that fundraising was a career path that I wanted to explore.”
In August, Anne retired as Mount Holyoke’s director of gift planning, a post she’d held for nine years. In total, she spent 15 years with the College’s gift planning office, starting with an administrative assistant position and working her way up. During her tenure, Anne helped guide hundreds of alums through the gift planning process and, in the process, helped them to contribute tens of millions of dollars to the endowment, scholarships and institutional priorities.
Anne noted that before working at Mount Holyoke, she had no idea how easy it is to make a substantial gift to beloved institutions or charities, even when you don’t have expendable income.
“There are creative ways to achieve philanthropic goals. And that’s the fun part of gift planning,” she said. “I frequently asked alums what they would do for Mount Holyoke if they could just wave a magic wand. The ensuing conversation often led to discovering how a gift that seemed out of reach was in fact possible and how it could also offer them tax benefits.”
Several years ago, Anne named Mount Holyoke as one of the beneficiaries of her retirement account, and her legacy gift will provide scholarships for the Frances Perkins Program. “This was a simple way to provide for my children and contribute to an aspect of Mount Holyoke that is dear to me.”
In retirement, Anne looks forward to discovering new connections with Mount Holyoke. She anticipates that after taking a break, she may be back as an alum volunteer.
“This community has fed my soul since I first visited the Frances Perkins office. My compass always points toward Mount Holyoke. ”