Helen Forster ’83 has long been an advocate of women’s education and has shown her support for Mary Baldwin University generously and consistently over the years. Her largest contributions go toward the Baldwin Fund and most have been unrestricted, allowing the college to use the funds where there’s the greatest need. “I trust the college to use it in the best ways possible,” she explained, “and the college is doing a better job helping people understand that tuition does not cover the full cost of educating a student. The Baldwin Fund is the main source of funds to cover that gap,” she said.
The Baldwin Fund supports to the day-to-day operation of the college and helps to enhance the student experience. It has helps improve recruiting efforts, makes possible campus building renovations, subsidizes printing for students at Grafton Library, and covers the cost of new books for the library, computers for labs, and other educational materials, among other items. In addition to contributions to the Baldwin Fund, Forster has given to the student scholarships named in honor of Mona Olds and Mary Shuford.
Forster was a business major at Mary Baldwin who fell in love with the institution on her first visit. “When I saw the campus, that’s what hooked me.” She and her husband, Robert, own a jewelry business — Diamond Outlet — which they acquired in 1996. Her in-laws started the business in 1982.
While she supported her alma mater from the time she graduated, fellow alumnae and college staff recognized her leadership potential and worked to increase her involvement with Mary Baldwin. Jane Townes ’69 asked Forster if she would be interested in serving on the Advisory Board of Visitors for the college. “It was my reconnection to the college, and I ended up serving on the ABV for six years,” Forster said.
Now a member of the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors, she has continued to stay actively engaged with Mary Baldwin and encourages other alumnae/i to get involved as well. Forster sees areas for continued improvement and isn’t shy about rallying support: “We need to move alumnae/i participation up,” she said. ” I would just like for others to recognize that even a small gift helps a lot.”