Royalene Reed became a single mother to four young children after her divorce in the mid-1980s. Cheerful and outgoing today, she recalls with painful clarity her shame, loneliness and helplessness after losing her entire support system when she chose to end her marriage. Money was scarce, and Royalene was forced to line up at the food bank to feed her three boys and a daughter. By the early 1990s, her second youngest child - then about age 10 - began running from home and acting out. His actions were affecting her three other children and Royalene was completely and utterly lost.
Finally, at her wits end and worried for the well-being of her three other children, she made the difficult choice to give up her son in hopes the government’s child welfare system could get him the help she couldn’t. “The only way to protect them was to swallow my pride and do what I had to do,” she says.
Her son was referred to the Wood’s Homes Stabilization program several times for short-term care and counselling, and Royalene also relied on the 24-hour crisis line run by the Community Resource Team for emergency phone support.
As her family healed (her son never returned to live at home, but they stay in touch), Royalene never forgot the place and people who helped heal her family in their darkest time. Recently, she approached the Wood’s Homes Foundation determined to give back to the organization that had helped her during a low point in her life. She decided to include Wood’s Homes in her estate plans by including a charitable bequest in her will. It is her hope that her legacy gift will provide financial assistance to families to allow them to seek counselling and parent education programs without worrying about living expenses.
“I want this to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Royalene. But her message is more far-reaching than that. “I also want the staff to know they had a measurable impact - not just to him, but to me with my work with my other three kids. I want the people who give money to Wood’s Homes to know that they are getting a good return on their investment. Wood’s Homes helps make our community a healthier and safer place to live. Everyone wins in the end.”
Helen Stadelbauer was instrumental in shaping the University of Calgary Art Department. A strong believer in housing developmental art, studio art and art history under one department, She was a founding member of the art department and a staunch supporter throughout her life.
Today, Helen’s legacy remains. Upon her death in 2006, a bequest was left to the University of Calgary to support scholarships in developmental art, studio art and art history.
Helen Stadelbauer was born into a middle-class Calgary family in 1910 and enrolled in teacher training at the Calgary Normal School in 1931. By 1944, she was a teacher there and when the school was incorporated into the University of Alberta, Calgary branch in 1945, she became one of the first members of the faculty of Education.
In 1963, Helen helped Fine Arts become an independent department at the Calgary campus, incorporating music, art and eventually drama under one title. She quickly found herself acting as head of the new faculty and the art department.
Helen was very involved in the move to grant the university full autonomy from the U of A and was pleased when in 1966 the University of Calgary was established as a separate institution. She served as a one-person art department, later becoming its chief administrative officer and also taught until her retirement in 1989.
"It was Helen's unique vision that studio art, art history and developmental art be housed together,” says Art Department Head Arthur Nishimura. “We are truly grateful for the legacy that she has left."
When You Can't Take It With You
Anthea Law Stevenson, Vogel & Company LLP
For the past three years, I have enjoyed presenting at the annual Leave a Legacy event on estate planning, wills, probate, and executor's duties. These presentations have allowed me to share legal information with members of the public, and meet very interesting people.
After my presentation last year, one of the attendees, Bert Furlong, asked interesting and thought-provoking questions, which formed the basis of a memorable and lively Q & A session with the audience. I was contacted a few months later by Bert and his wife Bev to assist them with Bev's late father's estate, and I have had the pleasure ever since then of getting to know them.
Bert and Bev have attended the last two Leave a Legacy events and enjoy learning about wills and estate planning. They are very thoughtful and feel good about doing things for others. When Bev's parents both passed away, her family wanted to do something to celebrate their memory. Her parents had a cottage where many happy moments were spent. Bev's family decided to donate a bench located in front of the cottage, to the memory of her parents, “so mom could continue to enjoy her walks and the cottage."
They often consider how they can benefit others, and in their charitable giving they donate to organizations that have a special meaning to them or that they have an interest in. Bev often gives what she calls a "gift" to members of her church – she will pick up the lunch tab!
Bert and Bev are now considering updating their wills. In Bert's words, "Bev and I want to leave something behind to benefit others when we are gone. We want to celebrate life, not death – we want to leave a legacy."
This year’s free Leave a Legacy event will be on April 24, 2010 at Mount Royal University from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. Barb Higgins of CTV News will be hosting the event, and the presenters will include myself, a trust professional, and an accountant . The event is recommended for anyone who is thinking about doing their will, wanting to learn about the tax consequences on death, or wondering how they, too can benefit others when they are gone.