Selling everything to help others

After she retired from Microsoft, Debra Mailman sold her house, gave away her furniture and dedicated her skills to disaster relief.

Debra Mailman sits atop a stone outcropping in front of a body of water.

Since selling her home and many of her possessions, Fidelity Charitable donor Debra Mailman now travels the world helping nonprofits organize aid to disaster relief areas.

When Hurricane Dorian struck the Caribbean in 2019, Fidelity Charitable donor Debra Mailman was ready to help – both financially and personally.

In 2018, Mailman sold her house, gave away her furniture and put her car in storage. Her goal: use her Microsoft-honed organizational expertise to help relief groups deliver aid after natural disasters.

Debra Mailman wears protective goggles, heavy gloves and a medical mask as she “mucks out” after Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to using her Microsoft-honed organizational skills to deliver aid, she also takes a hands-on approach. Here, she “mucks out” a Houston home after a hurricane.

In addition to dedicating six weeks to relief work in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, Mailman has used her donor-advised fund to recommend grants to organizations like Team Rubicon, which mobilizes military veterans to help in disaster recovery, and to IsraAID, which provides humanitarian help worldwide.

“I care about a lot of issues, so I’ve always had a hard time finding a focus -- but now, my giving is focused on disaster relief and refugees,” Mailman says. “I know I will never be able to do everything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not obligated to do something.”

This testimonial and the statements and opinions expressed in this article are based on an interview with Debra Mailman who provided permission to use her name. This testimonial statement is not indicative of future programs and/or services and may not be representative of the experience of all donors. 

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