In the 1980s, George McDonald, Founder and President of The Doe Fund, befriended an elderly woman known only as Mama. One of the hundreds of men and women who called Grand Central Terminal home, Mama spoke little English but was loved by all who knew her.
It was during this time that George trekked to Grand Central each night, handing out sandwiches, fruit, and milk to those who needed it most. For more than 700 nights, he brought not only nourishment, but concern, comfort, and care.
On Christmas Eve 1985, George visited Mama to give her an early Christmas present — a purple scarf to keep her warm in the harsh winter weather. When he returned on Christmas morning, he found the scarf next to Mama, who lay dead on a bench. Driven from Grand Central by transit police the night before, Mama had slept on a subway grate in an attempt to stay warm. When the Terminal opened in the morning, she crawled back in and eventually succumbed to the elements and the circumstances of her life.
Soon after, George founded The Doe Fund in her memory. Mama Doe did not die in vain — she was the spark that lit the first candle of hope for the homeless population in New York City.
Every year on Christmas Day, The Doe Fund celebrates the legacy of hope and opportunity inspired by Mama Doe with a special candlelight vigil in Grand Central Terminal's Main Hall.