When disaster strikes in the global community and need is imminent, digging deep to help those in peril comes naturally for most. But when the need is ongoing, it takes a little more commitment and planning to help fellow humans, at-risk animals or the planet.
Help comes in the form of time and money, and the number of charitable organizations in need of both seems infinite. Canada has over 80,000 registered charities. So, how do Canadians decide where to spend their time and money? Primarily it comes down to a personal decision about values. What touches their heart? What matters to them? And what makes the greatest impact?
Ted Yeates, a member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria for the past six years, gives both his time and money to an organization he believes makes a difference in the lives of children and their families.
In 1986, while still living and working in Toronto, Ted, then a single father, found himself with some free time after his son left home for university. He decided to fill that time by volunteering. With parental experience under his belt, he thought Big Brothers would be a good avenue - and one in which he could see the results.
"Through my involvement as a Big Brother, I saw first-hand the good work that can be done," says Ted. "I believe in the cause. I saw the difference I made in my little brother's life."
Though he only intended to commit for one year, Ted and his little brother were together for six, until Ted relocated to Victoria, when his little brother was 16.
Once in Victoria, Ted was busy building a new business and time restrictions prevented him from volunteering. He remained involved with Big Brothers and other not-for-profit organizations by offering his resources instead.
"These organizations can't function without finances," says Ted. "It's always amazed me that the not-for-profit sector doesn't get more recognition for what they do. Millions of man-hours go into this sector; the payback is the difference they make in the community."
Ted and his little brother, who now has a family of his own, continue their friendship. Ted visits them whenever he returns to Toronto.
"I can look back on my own life and there were several male figures who made a difference," says Ted. "Children should not grow up without mentors. I know it makes a difference. I've seen it."
Jeanette and Robert Furber are long-time supporters of the Eldercare Foundation. Part of their contribution to the organization includes an Education Legacy Fund, which they contribute to annually and have included in their will.
"The impact of education can be great," says Jeanette. "When one or two people learn, they can teach others. You get a lot of bang for your buck."
When the Furbers moved to Victoria in 1985, Jeanette became the Assistant Executive Director of the Health Care Service of the Juan de Fuca Hospitals and Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing. She retired from health care administration in 2000.
Involved in care of the elderly since 1980, Jeanette has been affiliated with the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation since 1985 through her work with the Juan de Fuca Hospitals.
"I've been lucky," says Jeanette. "People have helped me out in my past and now it's my turn to pay it back."
Her keen interest in supporting and caring for the elderly prompted her to become an individual member of the Foundation in June 1999, and she was elected to serve on its volunteer Board of Directors the same year. Board President of the Foundation for two years commencing in July 2001, Jeanette also served on many Foundation committees over the years and continues to be an active member and supporter.
"I believe that unless caregivers stay up to date with knowledge, they can't provide the best care," says Jeanette. "I couldn't have done what I did in my life without education. I wouldn't have known what quality care was. Knowledge is constantly changing."
Giving time and money comes down to an individual decision. But whether the decision is prompted by a life-changing event or a lifetime committed to one goal, its impact can be felt on an individual, community and even global level. And as demonstrated by these donors, the recipients aren't the only one to feel its rewards.