When Eva-Maria Swedlow Immigrated to America from Germany in 1958, she knew she would have to rely on her skills as a photographer to support herself. She had earned an advanced degree in photography in Munich, worked in a portrait studio, and done commercial photography. Although she was able to find similar work in her new home, Eva-Maria found that she still had much to learn.
"In Germany, Photographers were still working mainly with black-and-white film," she recalled. "Here, almost everything was in color. I had to relearn many things."
Today, Eva-Marie lives in Southern California and is a photo librarian for an aerial photography company. Many of their clients are real estate developers seeking aerial photos of housing developments or of land they hope to develop. Seeing these photos has given her a new perspective regarding the destruction of the environment. As a result, she has become more involved with environmental issues.
"Until a few years ago, I was too busy raising my two children," said Eva-Marie, "Now that they are grown and I'm semi-retired, I can become more active. Some people don't believe they can solve these environmental problems, but I believe every individual can make a difference, even with the small things we do in our daily lives."
In keeping with that philosophy, Eva-Maria leads by example in her own life-like asking for reusable bags at the supermarket. She also joined a group that is trying to block a new toll road that would cut through natural areas.
Although much of her income is used to supplement her Social Security, Eva-Marie finds ways to make gifts to organizations that share her concerns.
"I received an inheritance from my parents," she said, "and I've used that to travel and to support organizations that help protect the environment and preserve wildlife and natural resources."
Eva-Maria, an active member of Greenpeace since 1988, has found yet another way to lend her support. In her will, she has left bequest to Greenpeace and other organizations she has supported. She has also provided for her children by leaving them the remainder of her estate.
"I have a lot of admiration for Greenpeace and the work they do," said Eva-Maria. "I think it's important to help those who are on the front lines. They are putting their lives on the line for what they believe."
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