Impact Giving | Saying "Yes," from the Noes

Judy and Bob have instilled an appreciation for the outdoors in their family and hope to see another value shared by their kids and grandkids: giving back. Read about the creative way that they chose to promote philanthropy in their family during the holidays.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 01, 2023
Impact Giving | Saying "Yes," from the Noes
Photo by Martina Kohlus.

Judy Lightfoot and her husband, Bob McNamara, have always loved being outdoors. Access to skiing, hiking, and mountaineering is something that they never took for granted, and they are pleased to see that their kids and grandkids have also been able to find joy outside. Another value they hope to see amplified in their family is a commitment to giving back. 

Judy and Bob are no strangers to the needs they see in their community and give back as they are able, from helping neighbors prepare for natural disasters to sharing their home with immigrant families. In honor of this season of giving, we want to bring you a story from Judy about cultivating empathy and philanthropy across generations.

Bob and I enjoy being called Nonna and Nonno by our grandchildren. The words evoke happy memories of Italy, where we spent five trimesters volunteering and teaching, and they inspire our granddaughter to jokingly call us The Noes. We’re lucky to live near enough to have weekly family dinners with our grandkids. During the COVID shutdown we homeschooled them, an often-hilarious enterprise because both of us retirees used to teach college-level, not grade-school, subjects.

As the 2021 holidays approached, our grandkids surprised us by saying, “We have enough store-bought stuff. Let’s give each other handmade things this year.” Easy for them! In their parents’ well-stocked studio spaces at home they’re always drawing or painting, or even making leather goods and pottery. Bob and I were stymied for a while, but then the notion of giving them a “handmade” way of giving to others emerged.

Giving Books took shape as spiral notebooks decorated with hand-stamped stars. Miniature “$25 bill” printouts were stored inside each cover. Separate pages for 20 nonprofits (vetted via Charity Navigator) that might be interesting to the kids were filled with colorful website images, text excerpts, and small envelopes for donations. Each child then chose where their money should go, sometimes putting several $25 gifts into the same organization's envelope. In 2022 we followed up with holiday Giving Books for their parents. The scheme can fit any family’s budget when affordable donation amounts are used.

JL giving books 3.pngGiving Books are one way that Judy and Bob share their philanthropic values with their kids and grandkids. Photo Courtesy Of Judy Lightfoot.

Habits of empathy were nothing new to our grandkids. Even at age four, one stepped up to soothe the desperate crying of a newcomer to her preschool when every possible intervention from teachers had failed. Our granddaughter just stroked the new girl’s arm and said, “Don’t worry, your mom will come back for you!” and the weeping stopped.

JL giving books 1.pngJudy and Bob donated to the Mountaineers in honor of their family to support an inclusive outdoor community and advocacy on behalf of the natural world. Photo Courtesy of Judy Lightfoot.

Bob and I have always given a percentage of income to worthy causes, and we loved our careers in the helping profession of teaching. In a world full of poverty, conflict, and loneliness, the habit of “saying yes” by giving to people in need and supporting endeavors like The Mountaineers that draw strangers into connection with each other and the natural world – these let us feel we’re improving our world a bit. We feel powerful instead of helplessly at the mercy of scary big events.

— Judy Lightfoot

Whatever your method or motivation for giving this season, your year-end donation will make a difference. When you “say yes” to The Mountaineers as a volunteer or donor, you are helping more people have safe, meaningful, and sustainable outdoor experiences and conserving our natural world for the next generation.


Do you have a creative or meaningful way that you promote giving back with your family? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or email with your traditions, stories, and ideas.

JL giving books 4.jpgA P.S. About Saying Yes, from the Noes. Photo Courtesy of Judy Lightfoot.

The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions. Our staff work to support our seven branches (Bellingham, Everett, Foothills, Kitsap, Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma), three lodges (Baker, Meany, and Stevens), and our Kitsap Forest Theater. Tax ID: 27-3009280. 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

Add a comment

Log in to add comments.