An Iowa woman who won part of the huge Powerball jackpot last month is giving back through charity. Lerynne West has decided to give $500,000 of her nearly $350,000,000 winnings to a veterans’ organization.
In an appearance on The Ellen Show, the single mom of three discussed her big win and some of her plans for the money. One of the first things she did was create her own non-profit, The Callum Foundation, which will provide financial assistance to a number of causes including poverty, animal welfare, veterans’ services.
She named the organization in honor of her grandson who passed away only one day after his premature birth. For the first donation, she’s given half a million dollars to the Travis Mills Foundation. The group offers services and retreats to service members who have been injured in combat.
It’s a cause that is close to her heart. West grew up in a large military family where she has three brothers who served and a father who was a war veteran. This background and her love for family helped shape her decision to form her foundation and give back.
As a single mother, West worked hard to finish school as an adult and worked various jobs to support her family. At age 51, she was finally able to purchase her first home and it was during move-in that she stopped for a few minutes to buy a lotto ticket.
She told Ellen that she was unpacking in her new home when she decided to take a break. West and her sister made a pitstop a local gas station for pizza and coffee, and she bought a few lottery tickets. She regularly played, but always with the attitude that if it was meant for her to win, she would. With that, she let the computer pick her numbers.
The next day, a friend reminded her to check her Powerball tickets, but they weren’t in her possession. West realized she left them on the floor of her sister’s car, and she had to call her to check them after learning one winner was from Iowa.
You know what happened next. With her new fortune, she resigned from her job but still wanted to do something in the community. Thus, her foundation was born.
With a board in place, the foundation will begin taking grant requests sometime in 2019. West considers herself blessed and like many of us, always daydreamed of winning the lottery. In those daydreams, she also included a plan to help others, feeling it was her responsibility to do so.
Many agree that this is definitely case of “the right person winning” and have found her story to be inspirational. Click on this clip from Ellen to meet the lucky winner and to hear more about her future plans for the money. Her heart is in the right place!
What do you think of this woman’s plans? Are you touched by West’s personal story? Would you do something similar if you won the grand prize?