USA – March 5 2024

RBG for SOS: Patrice's story

At SOS Children’s Villages, we work tirelessly to provide loving and nurturing homes for children around the world. We address the root causes of issues that affect children including malnutrition, family separation, intergenerational trauma, lack of educational opportunity and gender inequality. Central to our mission is empowering women and girls to grow their careers and develop self-reliance to strengthen their families and end generational poverty. In 2022, the RBG for SOS Endowment was created to support critical programs that enable women and girls to build brighter futures. The RBG for SOS Endowment was founded by our very own Board Member, Patrice Michaels, and her husband Jim Ginsburg—the daughter-in-law and son of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). We wanted to share with you the following story from Patrice, which details the origins of the RBG for SOS Endowment. 

It was a mild afternoon in Washington, DC. “Bubbie” (the family name for Justice Ginsburg) wanted us to have lunch on the back patio. She brought some briefs and other documents, as always. This time, the papers included a pad for notes about how her Berggruen Prize money would be distributed.

Some months before, RBG had gone to New York to accept the gift of one million dollars, citing her ideas that “profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.” This—as with all monetary awards she received—was destined for disbursement to multiple philanthropic organizations. In addition to supporting her own familiar  favorite causes (legal research and opera performance high on the list), I knew she sometimes asked  her nears and dears about their own donor commitments.

Bubbie listened in her quiet way as I shared my experience of visiting SOS Children’s Villages in northern Italy. I told her I had seen the original SOS Children’s Villages system in action there: a unique model creating a home environment for unparented children where trained and compensated full-time caregivers raised up to six children of varied ages and backgrounds. The village system is designed to support the well-being of all individuals within it, nurturing these new families in a communal setting that intentionally strengthens the neighborhoods, schools and even hospitals around them. And I shared that the original SOS Children’s Villages model has grown to include another vision: keeping children and their families from being separated in the first place, providing health (both physical and emotional), education and earning opportunities so that stabilized families can remain intact in their communities. 

I could never have guessed that, when I first pledged to sponsor a Ghanaian child in 2010, the child would grow to be a young woman studying law, likely to learn about Bubbie’s global impact. Nor could Bubbie have imagined the specific linkage between herself and this aspiring lawyer raised in SOS Children’s Villages in Ghana. But she judiciously assessed that the money she earmarked for SOS Children’s Villages would be well-stewarded for positive outcomes for all kinds of children for decades to come, whether they aspire to sing or cook or litigate. 

Jim Ginsburg and I are honored and proud to promote the RBG for SOS Endowment as a permanent means of providing foundationally critical services for children and families. Please join us in striving to remove all the degrees of separation between those who aspire and those who achieve.  

Give to the RBG for SOS Endowment