The Petit Family Foundation exists because of a tragedy: the senseless murders of a mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, a recent graduate of Miss Porter's School preparing for her freshman year at Dartmouth College, and Michaela, 11, a rising sixth grader at Chase Collegiate School.
At the public memorial service, Dr. Petit asked those gathered to "help a neighbor, fight for a cause and love your family" to honor the memories of his family and make the world a little bit better place to live. This tragic event prompted a flood of generosity from around the world. The foundation was created to help streamline the donations that were pouring in and allow the family to direct those funds to the causes they felt would best represent the interests and the example of the Petit women.
The Petit Family Foundation honors the memories of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela by continuing the kindness, idealism and activism that defined their lives. Funds are given to foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses; and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.
"What we are trying to do is to fund educational programs, especially in the sciences, and hopefully that will help young women," Dr. Petit says. "Secondly, to help perhaps with the educational aspects of some chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis—that Jen had—and certainly to help those affected by violence."
There are many ways you can contribute to the Petit Family Foundation—through financial support, volunteering your time or participating in fundraising events. To learn more, visit PetitFamilyFoundation.org.