A Family’s Lasting Legacy
Helen and Cliff Preston celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary a few years ago with a special gift, not to themselves, but to their community.
They launched the Preston-Kitching Fund through the Carman Area Foundation, a lasting legacy in support of health care facilities in the town which they had spent their lives and raised their children, Cheryl, Heather, Rick, and Gordon.
“The idea came from Mom and Dad,” said son Rick, who now lives in Winnipeg. “None of the kids were around town anymore, and once they are gone, there wouldn’t be any Prestons left there – at least not from our family,” he said. “They wanted to contribute to the community that we have all benefitted from.”
Cliff has since passed away. But, the fund, which he took particular delight in getting started, has lived on, supported by his family. The fund is designed to continue in perpetuity to support the community’s health care needs.
Family members contribute to the fund when they are making regular charitable donations. It also comes in handy when trying to decide what to give to someone who doesn’t need more stuff in their lives. The contribution, however large or small, adds to the fund’s resources, which are managed according to the criteria set out by Cliff and Helen and by the Carman Area Foundation Board.
Rick said while his parents’ initial contribution to set up the fund was probably small in the grand scheme of things, what makes it special is that it was a planned contribution that began before they were gone, and which included all of their kids.
It gave the family members a common cause, while connecting them with their roots. “Through planned giving you see the benefits while you are still here, versus waiting until you are gone,” Rick said. “I think it’s one way we all have of keeping him alive for us. Dad gave a lot to the town through community service, and when they were able to do more on the financial side, they were quite pleased to do that.”
Making a Difference, One Pay cheque at a Time
When local employees of the Manitoba Hydro office in Carman signed up to donate a little from each paycheque to charity, they had no idea giving back to the community could be so rewarding. Giving a small contribution every pay period is the easy part. As part of Hydro’s employee giving plan, workers decide how much they can afford to have deducted from each paycheque. They can even identify which they wish to support.
“It comes off before you even know you have it,” says Mindy Poulton, one of the employees who helps allocate the local funds.
Co-worker Roger Currie couldn’t agree more. “We just take the money off each cheque and Hydro matches it. How hard is that?” he says. “You can even choose how much to give.”
The difficulty comes when deciding three times a year how to allocate the donations employees have dedicated to their local community. There are so many valuable volunteer organizations counting on community support for the services they offer.
“We as an office find that’s the hardest part,” Poulton says. “Who needs it the most?”
But if high gasoline prices mean the Handi Van gets a little boost one time, there’ll be a little something for the United Way, the Christmas Cheer Board, historical society, or any number of local charities the next time.
For these community supporters, having the ability to respond to community needs with regular contributions, is a privilege, not a duty. Some call it paying it forward.
For Currie, it’s all about giving back. “I think it’s important to give back to the community,” he says.