Jim and Marla Gousseff’s dedication to YMOW and their homebound neighbors lives on through gifts to six Ypsilanti organizations, including Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels.
Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels will received a $200,000 endowment from The James W. (Jim) and Marla J. Gousseff Fund, part of a $1.8 million estate gift to the Ypsilanti Area Community Fund (YACF). The endowment will be used to establish a fund that will support Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels for many years to come.
YMOW Executive Director Alison Foreman said the Gousseffs’ generosity has benefited Ypsilanti and YMOW for decades and will continue to be felt well as need in the Ypsilanti community continues to grow.
“This gift will allow us to meet the growing needs of Ypsilanti’s homebound population well into the future,” Alison said.
Jim, who passed away in 2014, was a professor of communications and theater arts at Eastern Michigan University for 35 years. Marla was an occupational therapist, including at EMU’s Rackham School and New Horizon Educational Center of Ypsilanti Public Schools. Before she passed in 2019, Marla established a bequest through the Ann Arbor Community Foundation to support the couple’s beloved hometown.
As longtime YMOW volunteers, the Gousseffs delivered meals and played key roles on the Holiday Home Tour. In 2016 the Gousseffs’ own home, featuring a collection of art collected from throughout the world, was a highlight of the annual event.
“Their support for the arts and for those in need has created a beautiful legacy in this community,” said MaryBeth Strassel, friend of the Gousseffs and YMOW volunteer.
“Marla was a lovely, generous lady and words don’t adequately describe her impact on this community,” Strassel said.
Demand for meals and other support services provided by Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels hit an all-time high last year, as seniors and adults with compromising health conditions sheltered in place. As the organization continues to grow, it will do so with the security of The James W. and Marla J. Gousseff bequest.
Annual gifts from the YACF also were granted to Corner Health Center, Riverside Art Center, Salvation Army of Washtenaw County, SOS Community Services and the Ypsilanti District Library. Additionally, the YACF Community Impact Fund will support a grants program to better the Ypsilanti community.