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Reflecting on a Life Built on Giving Back

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Karen Kane is the daughter of Irish immigrants and grew up on the south side of Chicago attending St. Ethelreda Grammar School and Queen of Peace High School.

“Both my Mom and my Dad taught myself and my two sisters to work hard and then share the fruits of your labor.” Her family expectation that helping others was an important part of life was consistent with what she saw at her school, her parish and her community.

“Whether it was giving to the collections taken at St. Ethelreda every day after lunch to fund foreign missions or helping neighborhood families in need, we were always there for others.” “We knew that we had enough, and anything extra we had should be shared with others we used our gifts to support others when they needed our help.”

After graduating from Northern Illinois University and receiving from her CPA certification, Karen joined Arthur Anderson Accounting & Co.. At work, community involvement was also an expected part of professional life.

Giving through the United Way, working as an area precinct captain on numerous elections, or volunteering at St Clement, Karen continued to be involved in her community, “as a CPA, it may surprise you to know that I believe the best things in life are free. Supporting organizations and volunteering have enriched my life in so many ways. I have made so many friends and brought so much joy into my life, I can’t imagine not reaching out to help others.”

When her father suffered a devastating stroke, Karen’s aunt, Sr. Louise Landers, DOC, took a year off from her social service work in northern England to help care for Karen’s father. After seeing her Aunt’s kindness and compassion, Karen wanted to find a special way to say thank you to Sr. Louise. She sought out opportunities to volunteer at a Daughters of Charity organization as a six-week Lenten service project. Before she knew it, she was hooked! Six weeks of Lent became six months and then six years and eventually over 25 years!

"For me, the Early Childhood Education programs were always impressive and impactful on the children and families.” - Karen Kane

A passion for the mission of MSV was built by working with Sr. Katie Norris, meeting with various Associate Board members, and most importantly, witnessing the dramatic impact of MSV’s services. Volunteering at events such as the Santa Mike dinner for homeless and Christmas celebrations became an annual event. She joined the Advisory& Development Board and co-chaired their first Casino Night with Sue Leonis and Vi Daley and was a member of the first Committee establishing the Fleur-de-Lis Gala (many thanks to Larry Marshall for creating that first event!).

“Many members of the Associate Board of over 25 years ago stayed involved for years to come since they were also hooked!!: Dan Walsh, Fred Hogan (RIP), Denny Banner, Maureen O’Brien, Lynn Penrith, Lynn Siegel, Pete DeBerge, Dorothy Jiganti, and many others. We all worked on holding events, raising needed funds and volunteering. My aunt, Sr Louise, led me to the door of MSV, but the people and programs kept me coming back year after year.”

Karen transitioned to the Marillac St Vincent Board of Trustees and served faithfully on the Finance Committee. After a successful accounting career, including a stint as the CFO for MSV, Karen reflected on the three things that cemented her dedication to Marillac St Vincent.

  1. “First, you have to love the mission to serve the poor. For me, the Early Childhood and Teen programs were always impressive and impactful on the children and families.”

  2. “Second, the fact that MSV has been around since 1915 is awesome. That kind of longevity and the evolution of the programs over time shows strong thoughtful leadership and the ability to be around for another 100 years.”

  3. “Finally, having the Daughters of Charity as sponsors means a great deal to me – especially my memories of my late aunt, Sr. Louise.”

Karen’s next step was becoming part of Marillac St Vincent’s planned giving society the Vincentian Circle. By choosing to remember MSV in her estate plans, Karen is still helping others. Her thoughtful planning will ensure that the people and programs she loves and cares about can continue to help others for generations to come.

“It truly makes me happy to know that after my passing, my wishes for my estate will make a difference to those served by Marillac St Vincent. My life has been a happy life and I am so proud to have had an impact on my neighbors and city.”


Planning for the future is critical. To receive a FREE Personal Inventory and Planning Guide, contact Daniel Summins, MSV Director of Development, at (312) 278 - 4220 or

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