Home Community On a Firm Foundation: My Work Family

On a Firm Foundation: My Work Family


Mary Quilici Aumack

Executive Director
Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, aumack@cfoscc.org

My friend Susan often speaks of gratitude for both the family into which she was born, and the family she chose. I am blessed to be part of the family that she chose. Maybe it’s luck, but many of us have great family relationships, and deep and tradition-laden friendships.

But what about the family we’re “stuck with,” our WORK FAMILY?

Here at the Foundation, we say there are “4-1/2” of us because Nora works part-time. So we are five. 

We are different in many ways:

  • Age range (three guesses who’s oldest)
  • Heritage (Irish, Italian, Argentinian, German, English….)
  • Food preferences. Well actually, most of us like EVERYTHING. There are a few noted exceptions which I won’t detail here but give us fun discussion points
  • Music choices
  • Movie choices: We keep a list of “must see” movies, old and new. I tend toward tamer cinematic fare, so when a title is suggested, I always ask: “Yes, but is it a `Mary movie?’”
  • Books we’re reading and loving, or reading and NOT loving

We have things in common:

  • FOOD: When preparing for an endowment reception at Saint Joseph of Cupertino a few years ago, FatherGreg Kimm remarked: “You know, it’s all about the food.” We have taken that to heart. We often gather around a simple lunch to catch up on books, movies, or even work.  We grab takeout when we’re busy (and we are pretty much always busy). We introduced Carolina to Taco Bell, which I’m quite sure she now secretly loves.
  • Starbucks. Oh, is that just an extension of food? Well alright then, but we all do like it.
  • We love the 49ers and “don’t love” Pete Caroll (oh wait, that’s just I).
  • Love of family. Because of our age range we are experiencing different aspects of family life. Carolina (four children) and Nora (two children) have an oldest who is starting to think about college. Sean and Marie do not have children. My “baby” Kacey is almost 35 and recently moved to Portland. We talk about family, we share experiences, and we are strengthened. My dad would have loved this!

Like all good work groups, we share sense of purpose. We are highly collaborative, often gathering around our small round tables to further an idea, perfect a marketing piece, or solve a problem. These are the times that give me great joy.

Through our grant making we learn more about the broad and effective programs happening around the valley, propelled by faith. We recognize the work of Saint Vincent DePaul society, the outreach of so many parishes, the lasting formation of our diocesan elementary schools and Sacred Heart Nativity Schools. We often wish we had unlimited financial resources, to partner more strongly with these institutions and programs. Toward that end, we work together.

Above all else, and adding depth, richness and joy to our work, we share our faith. I’ve often remarked that the number one personal benefit of my work is the deepening of my faith.

My previous career was in high tech sales and marketing. I loved my work, but it was nothing like this, nothing like here. HERE I can display my faith with objects in my office. HERE we have a crucifix in our main area, demonstrating the “why” of us, which is deep gratitude for the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, extending to our desire to grow ministry by providing consistent financial support. 

HERE we pray at the beginning of our staff meetings. On Mondays in December we lit the advent wreath and gave thanks.

HERE we support each other in the prayers and rituals of our faith. When my mom died, it was a joyous time to remember a long and worthy life. Staff gathered with me and my family to celebrate in thanksgiving. When Sean’s dad died, it was sudden and too soon. We gathered then, doing what we could to hold him in the embrace of our love and support, hoping to say or not say what might help. 

HERE we celebrate every birthday, every achievement, silly to solemn, tiny to business-changing. We recently opened a Donor Advised Fund for Father Saju Joseph in honor of his 25th anniversary of ordination. We open the mail together, and find delight with every check that comes in support of Father Saju’s fund, or a parish or school endowment.

In November Marie got married. We gathered around the Eucharist with great joy. The celebrant, Father Matt Elshoff, a Franciscan from southern California gave the most beautiful homily. We were in the mission church and he spoke of Saint Clare. He said that when each young woman joined the order Saint Clare would give her a mirror. The goal was to look in the mirror and always strive to BE the good that was reflected. As he was speaking, I’m thinking to myself: “really? a mirror?” He then walked to a nearby table and picked up a crucifix. He returned to stand in front of Marie and Andrew and said: “and THIS is the mirror. This is the reflection that can guide us and give us strength as we go out in the world, sure of our place in the Body of Christ.” It was a beautiful and moving moment.

HERE we seek to provide FOREVER VALUE for parishes, schools and other organizations, in the sure and certain hope that through our work we can contribute to the growth of sacraments and deepening of our faith.

Our work family is filled with hope and purpose, and we are blessed.

Check out the website: www.cfoscc.org, or stop by for some food and faith!