Dawn Ironside wants people to know that when it comes time to make afterlife decisions there are opportunities to make a difference in the community.
Ironside lost her husband’s mother, Olga, unexpectedly in 2002. She spoke at the launch of the Community Giving Partnership’s first Your Will is a Gift campaign at city hall to encourage members of the community to include charitable donations in their wills.
“When you lose a loved one you tend to have feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness and that happened when we lost my husband’s mother in 2002 from pancreatic cancer,” Ironside said, adding that her donation will be to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to aid in pancreatic cancer research.
“From five and a half weeks she went from planning a wonderful trip with us to Texas to losing her life and we were devastated, so we wanted to find a way to transfer the hopelessness to hope and the powerlessness to power.”
The campaign involves six local organizations that have formed a partnership to educate and raise awareness in the community to the benefits of a legacy gift.
The organizations include educational institutions such as Confederation College, Lakehead University, as well as the School of Medicine, and health-care groups such as the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, George Jeffrey Children’s Foundation, and St. Joseph’s Foundation.
Katrina O’Neill, chair of the Community Legacy Giving Partnership, said only seven per cent of Canadians make a donation to charity in their wills.
“What we’re trying to do is get that discussion going,” said O’Neill. “People can talk to their families about what is important to them today that they can ensure will be there tomorrow by leaving this gift.”
As uncomfortable as it may be discussing end of life procedures, Ironside believes the rewarding feeling that comes from knowing they will make a difference makes the process worth it.
“After we did that, wow, we had such a feeling of contentment and peace and pride in what we did,” she said.
“Nobody likes to think about what will happen when I’m not here anymore, it’s human nature to not think about it. But when we do think about it it’s another thing off our checklist that gives us power in our legacy is handled later on.”
She added that it is crucial for people to contact the charitable organization before arranging for a legacy gift, as there are certain circumstances where some charities will not be permitted to accept certain gifts.
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