Current parent and alumna Katie Carney Dahm, DSHA ’90, is no stranger to giving back to DSHA — she has served on the DSHA Alumnae Board and planned the most recent reunion for her former DSHA classmates, among other roles. But she doesn’t just give back through her time; she also gives back financially, month by month. Her reason for doing so is simple — her life wouldn’t be the same without DSHA.
Katie Carney Dahm, DSHA ’90, has great memories from her time at DSHA: playing on the soccer and tennis teams, wearing her white dress at graduation, dancing the night away at Father Daughter, spending time in the senior lounge, and hanging out with her friends “in an unshowered, makeup-free, casual environment.”
And while the senior lounge no longer exists, Dahm is having fun watching her two Dashers, Delanie Dahm, DSHA ’21, and Tobie Dahm, DSHA ’23, play tennis, be academically competitive alongside their classmates, and make friends that will very likely last a lifetime.
But a big part of making sure her daughters – and other young women in the Milwaukee area — can take advantage of everything a DSHA education encompasses includes this: an ongoing and intentional commitment to financially support the school that has given her so much.
A PLEDGE TO MAKE AN IMPACT
Dahm, a math teacher at Christ King School in Wauwatosa and a realtor for Firefly Real Estate, learned early on how to handle her financials — to give, but also to save. When her paycheck arrives, she thinks back to what her father taught her: parts of her paycheck are to be designated for certain costs.
Part of her designated costs is her financial gift to DSHA. She pledges a certain amount to the DSHA Annual Fund, and then pays off the pledge monthly. While a one-time payment of a large amount is a big bullet to bite and might feel like a big sacrifice, she said, she hardly notices the absence of the amount she pays monthly.
“Give it a shot for a year. See if you miss it,” Dahm said. “I don’t miss it. If everybody (gave a little amount monthly), they wouldn’t miss it a bit, but it would make a big impact on DSHA.”
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
The numbers-minded person that she is, Dahm explained it in this way: if 20 people gave at least $5 a month, that’s a total of $1200. “Think about what $1200 could do for just one girl,” she said.
It doesn’t take giving large amounts to make a difference, she emphasizes. Although she may never be able to donate something like the Quad or a new wing of classrooms, her monthly donation becomes a part of a collection of gifts from people in similar financial situations.
“Whether the funds go toward a tangible thing or to the general mission of DSHA, we can’t just rely on large donors,” she said, noting that large donors, although smaller in number, are important for the financial stability of DSHA. “Everybody has to partake in some way.”
A DASHER EVERY DAY
As her social circle widens, said Dahm, she’s been asked for money left and right from hundreds of worthy causes. And it’s hard to say no.
When choosing what causes she gives to, she asks herself one question: “If I took this out of my life, would life be different?”
When it comes to DSHA, the answer is absolutely yes. Dahm, a second generation Dasher (her late mother is Paula Boucher Carney, DS ’64), says she encounters something about DSHA every single day, whether it be finding community connections through DSHA, catching up with old classmates, or talking with her daughters.
“DSHA is a non-negotiable,” she said. “It’s always going to be important whether my kids are there or not. It needs to remain so my grandkids and other kids in the Milwaukee area can have the same opportunity.”
That’s essential for Dahm: supporting the continuation of the school not just for her own family, but for all the other families who want to give their girls the best education in Milwaukee at one of the few standing all-girls schools.
“There’s something to be said about supporting the environment of all-girls,” she said. “(Your time at DSHA) is the greatest four years of your life in terms of foundations. You make instant connections and friends for life.”
Giving that to every girl is a product of giving financially to DSHA. It’s our social duty, Dahm said.
“Milwaukee needs to sustain all-girls schools,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to maintain all-girls education in Milwaukee.”