The progress CBF has made is the result of
countless individuals who have pitched in,
learned about the issues, and taken steps to
help save the Bay. As we approach our 50th
anniversary, we continue our series Donors
Make a Difference, which highlights a few
individuals whose talent, vision, and generosity have had a lasting impact on CBF. This is
the second article in the series.
If you ever doubt that one person can make a difference, look no further than Mary
Catherine Bunting. The granddaughter of Dr.
George Avery Bunting, founder of Noxzema
Chemical Company, the heiress-turned-nun-turned-philanthropist has spent her
life serving others, contributing to CBF
and a variety of other causes with her time,
talent, and remarkable generosity.
A life-long Marylander, Bunting’s connection to the Chesapeake Bay began in childhood. She learned to swim in the Bay and
fondly remembers boating trips there with
her family. As she grew older, she came
to appreciate the Bay for other reasons,
including the life it supports. “There’s such
a beautiful interconnectedness to all of the
creation in the Bay. I want to protect and
preserve it,” she says. She began supporting
CBF in the 1980s as she became increasingly aware of threats to the Bay’s health,
including polluted runoff from urban and
suburban areas and from agriculture. Three
decades later, she has contributed to many
of CBF’s initiatives, from oyster restoration
to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint
Campaign. With her family, she also established the Bunting Family Endowment
Fund, an investment fund that supports
CBF’s work in perpetuity.
Bunting’s commitment to protecting the
Bay stems in part from her faith. Raised in a
devoutly Catholic household, she spent more
than a decade as a member of
the Sisters of Mercy, an order
of nuns that places a special
emphasis on service to oth-
ers, especially the most vul-
nerable members of society.
She comments that the poor
often bear a disproportion-
ate burden when it comes to
environmental problems. For
instance, trash incinerators,
which cause air pollution and
are linked to a host of health
problems, are often located
in poor communities. “One’s
health depends on the whole
environment that you live in.
If you care about human wel-
fare, you have to care about
the environment, because it’s
not separate at all,” she says.
As a result, Bunting supports
an array of causes aimed at
improving the lives of others,
including health care, educa-
tion, and the environment.
Her generosity has improved the lives of
countless people in Baltimore and beyond.
A 2007 donation to Mercy Medical Center,
the institution where she enjoyed a thir-ty-year nursing career, created a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the city, providing
private rooms to patients and green features
that reduce the hospital’s environmental
footprint. In 2013, she founded the Bunting
Program in Peace and Justice Studies at
Loyola University Maryland, a program
designed to raise awareness about global
peace and justice issues.
Now retired, Bunting devotes her time to
volunteerism and philanthropy. She works
with the families of hospice patients. She
serves meals to Baltimore’s homeless once
a week through her church. She remains
committed to the idea that everybody can
make a difference. “What we do, what we
buy, what we throw away, what we recy-
cle, everything makes a difference,” she
says. Likewise, she believes that caring for
the environment is a responsibility that we
all share. “Nature is another scripture of
God. I think we’re here to care for it and to
save it for the next generation. Even though
I have no children, I believe that is our
responsibility,” she says, adding, “I’m glad
that we have the Chesapeake Bay
Foundation, because you need a group
that will fight. You can’t do it alone.”
U CBF is grateful for the generous support of
Mary Catherine Bunting and the Bunting Family.
Everything we do influences
everything else. If you care about
human welfare, you have to care
about the environment, because it’s
not separate at all.
DONORS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Mary Catherine Bunting
A Lifetime of Service
By Melanie McCarty
Mary Catherine Bunting, an heiress-turned-nun-turned-philanthropist, has spent her life serving others,
contributing to CBF and a variety of other causes.
Our Giving Community