The founder and president of the Wender Weis Foundation for Children talks mantras, Bay Area sports icons and Holiday Heroes.
The driving force behind Holiday Heroes at Oracle Park next month, Amy Wender
Lending a hand isn’t a passing thought for Amy Wender; it’s a way of life. When the New York City-raised Wender attended Stanford and worked as a paralegal at a Palo Alto law firm, she noticed partners at the firm and local athletes involved in charitable deeds and financial support. She watched them launch foundations and thought, “If they could do this, why can’t I?” So, in 1994, at 23, she launched the Wender Weis Foundation for Children (wenderweis.org), which has impacted thousands of youth and their families by contributing millions of dollars to local youth-serving nonprofits. The year’s crown jewel is Holiday Heroes at Oracle Park (Dec. 12).
Something great will happen today; be present to see what’s coming.
Best life advice you ever received?
At my all-girls school in New York City, I learned that you can make it happen if you can think it. Never let anyone say you cannot do something based on age or gender.
What’s your most remarkable trait?
I listen. I care.
I worry too often about the outcome of things.
Favorite part of Holiday Heroes?
Seeing the children’s faces light up when they meet an athlete they’ve loved from afar.
Favorite anecdote from Holiday Heroes?
Seeing [49ers player] Fred Warner break down last year when his brother appeared on stage and presented him with the Inspiration Award.
Who are your Bay Area heroes?
Steve Young, who inspired me to start the foundation; Joe Montana, who took a chance on me and the foundation for the first iteration with Halloween Heroes; and Kelley O’Brien, the San Francisco Bay Area event producer, philanthropist and driving force behind taking Holiday Heroes and foundation to the next level.
Why do you love the Bay Area?
I love the people here. They care, they give. They’re thoughtful, intelligent and invested. The greatest minds are here.
What delivers joy for you?
Giving back, spending time with my family and watching my son play baseball. Also, the simplicity of sharing a cup of coffee and a good laugh with a friend.
Favorite local charity outside of yours?
Do what you can when you can. You can’t get everything done, so do as much as possible and feel good about it.
What would you say to your 21-year-old self?
It will all work out.
Photography by: TRACY EASTON