"An open hand is a blessed for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”
The Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation is named for Bridgett “Biddy” Mason the organizer of First AME Church of Los Angeles. A former slave, Biddy Mason was able to secure her freedom when she petitioned a Los Angeles Court in 1856.
She became a legendary figure in the early Los Angeles community not only for her astute business acumen, but for her philanthropy. She founded a school and orphanage and her home on North Spring Street was a refuge for many destitute settlers. She cared for the sick and became a mentor for many in the early Los Angeles Community.
As a slave she had learned the skill of healing with herbal remedies and midwifery. These skills proved to be very valuable when she began her life as a free woman. She began her new life earning $2.50 per week as a nurse. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles. As businesswoman, she amassed a relatively large fortune, which she shared generously with charities. When she died in 1891 her estate was valued at $300,000. Today her estate would be valued at approximately $6 million.