Better To Give

By Kevin McKay


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Seventy-six-year-old Keith Quan landed in Canada in 1950 happy to arrive at the Golden Mountain, but dismayed to discover he had to work hard to attain the wealth he thought would come easy. Keith and his family have donated money to a number of charities over the years.

“I always support the Heart Fund because my dad died of problems with his heart so that has special meaning for me,” he says. “I also like to give to the Children’s Hospital and the Cancer Society.”

After his retirement, Keith found another way to give by donating some time to SUCCESS, which helps new immigrants fill out forms and improve their English.

“When I taught my classes, the students enjoyed it so much. That’s how I got the satisfaction out of it,” he says. “They liked what I was doing and I enjoyed doing it.”

Unable to maintain a weekly teaching schedule, Keith still volunteers with other projects and says, “I told them to call me if I can be useful to them.”

Involved with a number of charities over the years, a unique opportunity was presented to Alf Webb of Mill Bay and his business partner Ralph Cleasby.

“I’m a real estate developer. A fellow came up with the idea of building a spec house with the profit going to charity, and Ralph and I took the idea and ran with it,” says Alf. “We received significant help and support from the entire Cowichan Valley community for the project and decided the proceeds would go to Canuck Place. We wound up making $80,000 on the deal and donating it all to Canuck Place. It was a great feeling to be able to do this and it was the most significant charitable cause I have ever been involved with.”

Lucy Prentice is another supporter of Canuck Place, a facility that opened its doors in November 1995 as the first free-standing children’s hospice in North America. Now recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of palliative care, Canuck Place relies on the generosity of donors, including people like Lucy. Though she and her twin sister were born in Winnipeg over 92 years ago, they moved to Vancouver at such a young age, she considers herself a native British Columbian.

Canuck Place is currently building a second location in Abbotsford, but Lucy remains loyal to the original hospice.

“The hospice in Shaughnessy is my baby,” she says. “They always need something and when I choose to help, I want to know it will be there. Every August, they host a huge fundraising night with about 450 guests and they take over an entire floor of a hotel with an excellent dinner, entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction, if you want to bid on anything.”

Every year at the dinner, Lucy makes up her mind to purchase something that they need at Canuck Place.

“Last year, it came to my attention that the old stove in the place had been in use for so long it was becoming potentially dangerous. I donated $10,000 towards a new commercial stove with two ovens and all the bells and whistles. The staff hosted a luncheon in my honour at Canuck Place and presented me with a special chef’s apron and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They told me I had done more for them than any other individual donor.”

Lucy has another plan to help the hospice out. She has taken out a large life insurance policy with Canuck Place.

“As far as I know, I am the only person who has one of these policies with them. Once every year, I pay a premium and I get a tax credit on half of the premium amount when I file my taxes. I have named Canuck Place as the beneficiary and, when I die, the insurance company will pay them out.”

Lucy has her own special reasons for choosing Canuck Place as the beneficiary.

“My twin sister had two children, a boy and a girl. My niece died when she was seven years old of a disease somewhat akin to leukemia. It was a very tragic and sad time in our family,” says Lucy. “Some years later, I had some dear friends who lost their child to leukemia at the age of six. These deaths got me concerned about helping children’s charities. I was searching around for a charity to give to when one of my brothers-in-law told me about Canuck Place. I read up on them and we went to see them together and I haven’t been sorry since. It is an excellent cause and I don’t regret helping one bit.”

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