It surprises you when you meet her, because of how deeply she cares about the Nation’s service members, but Diane Otto never served in the military. Nor did anyone in her family or her husband’s family. And yet she has given an extremely generous gift to the Society to help Sailors, Marines, and their families – people with whom she has no direct connection, other than being a fellow American.
But for Diane, that’s more than enough. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she attended the local schools and went on to get an Associate’s Degree. Soon after, she got a good job with H.J. Heinz Co., the iconic ketchup brand with its roots in Western Pennsylvania. She moved away for a few years, but returned, spending over 20 years at Heinz, and living with her husband in Pittsburgh. From there, her patriotism reaches out to include the whole country.
So, with no connection to the military, how did she learn about the Society? It was by way of the website of a popular television news commentator. “The Society is listed there as one of the charities to trust,” Diane says. “I didn’t know about the Society before then.”
That recommendation was important, but Diane did her own research, too, before deciding to give. She checked out the Society’s website, and looked into the help the Society provides for Sailors, Marines, and their families when they’re struggling with financial hardships and other problems. She likes what the Society does. And she especially likes the fact that the Society is rated highly by Charity Navigator for accountability and transparency.
It’s a good thing Diane found out about us. That’s because, each year, she reviews her annual giving, always selecting charities that benefit veterans and service men and women. Then, when she’s required to take a distribution from her IRA account, she donates some of that money to the charities she supports.
Because of a recent rule change by the government, Diane can designate some or all of the minimum distribution from her IRA to be given to charity, and she doesn’t have to pay income tax on that money. “I get a benefit,” she says, “because it allows me to reduce my taxes.” Well, that’s the financial benefit, anyway.
What Diane is far more excited about is the personal benefit, and that comes from doing the right thing for service men and women. The Society is one of eight military-related charities that Diane gives to every year.
“I don’t think the government is doing enough for the people who serve this country,” she says. “In some cases, service members aren’t getting basic supplies, and veterans are just forgotten about. It’s wrong.”
Diane feels so strongly about the need to support service men and women because of the way they sacrifice for our country. “These men and women are putting their lives on the line,” she says. “They’re losing their lives and losing their limbs, and I’m sitting here in a comfortable home.”
This is why Diane respects the military and the people who serve. She recognizes that, without them, we wouldn’t have the freedom we cherish and the way of life we enjoy today. And now, with her gift, she’s doing her part for Sailors, Marines, and their families, so that they can focus on their mission without distractions.
“I’m patriotic, and I believe in this country,” Diane says. “It’s the greatest country on the face of the earth.” This is the spirit that Diane brings to her giving – a spirit of unity, belonging, and caring. “I respect what the Society does, and I’m pleased and proud as a grateful American to be able to make this donation to the men and women who made it possible for me to do so,” she says. “I feel it’s the least I can do.”
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso