Cora Hennessey, a recovered drug addict and runaway, now works at Capp Street Women’s Services.
The story opens with Cora waiting to meet rich novelist, Yvonne Borneo, so that Cora can ask her for financial assistance for the center. Cora hopes that the author will show up decked out in “white mink hat and coat” and “a thick tread of diamonds.” First disappointment of the story is that Yvonne wears “a plain taupe skirt band suit jacket.” Yvonne’s daughter, also a drug addict and prostitute died from a stepping in front of a train. “Angel Trust,” the foundation from which Cora hopes to receive money to keep the center operational.
This story captures the emotional truths of a recovered drug addict turned social worker and a wealthy parent of a runaway heroin addict. It’s a wrenching read. I think this is a story that fulfills that role of assisting people with empathetic understanding of others.
“Her voice was butterfat-rich but filmy, like an old bar of dark chocolate that had taken on a gray cast.”
“And what Cora and her staff did for such girls, day after day, felt more and more like hospice care: an attempt to minimize the worst of their pain until death.”
“How she wished she could accept his words as a gift and pretend they didn’t feel like a swift and brutal erasure of her entire adolescence as though it were some wartime atrocity…”
“Philanthropy” was first pubished in Granta magazine and then selected for inclusion in the 2013 Best American Short Stories anthology.
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