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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Deirdre & Ian Harris

For Deirdre and Ian Harris, storytelling plays a pivotal role in building community and honouring the lives of ordinary people.

 

“If you can get kids interested in stories and coming to the Library, it can change their lives,” says Ian, reflecting on one of the first items his parents got for him and his siblings—a library card.

 

His wife, Deirdre, is equally passionate about reading and libraries, and fondly recalls reading her way through all of the books in the library at small town where she grew up.

 

When their close friend, Judith Umbach, announced that she was making a legacy gift to the Calgary Public Library a few years ago, it made Deirdre and Ian realized that ordinary people can commit to make a gift in their will—legacy gifts aren’t only for multimillionaires.

 

“We considered many different charities. In the end, we felt a gift to the Library has the potential to benefit every Calgarian,” says Ian. “Libraries provide accurate information and facts in a world that is full of misinformation. Today, the Library is more important than ever.”

 

As a former Calgary Public Library board member, Deirdre is familiar with the Library’s mission, “Inspiring Life Stories.” With the naming of the Williams & Harris Shared History Centre, Deirdre and Ian are delighted to offer Calgarians the opportunity to share those life stories.

 

Today, the Williams & Harris Shared History Centre features several special collections of images and maps of Calgary and Southern Alberta’s history, which Calgarians and members of First Nations can access with a free Library card at www.librarysharedhistory.ca.

 

When the New Central Library opens in fall 2018, the Williams & Harris Shared History Centre will invite Calgarians and visitors to contribute to our city’s shared history, complete with technology to capture and share stories, an old-media lab, and programing to facilitate and enhance these contributions.

 

”Deirdre and I wanted to honour our parents and their stories, because their history is our history—the history of Calgary,” says Ian. “Everyone has a story. Regardless of where you’re from, or what year it is, everyone has a story that deserves to be recorded and kept. The Williams & Harris Shared History Centre will make it possible for all citizens to record and make their stories accessible to build on Calgary’s rich history.”

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Kathie Aldridge

In 1998, when Kathie Aldridge was asked to remove the most important item from her wallet during a class at the University of Calgary, she didn’t hesitate.

 

There was no other option for the mother-of-four who was working 60 hours a week as a meat packer in the city. She took out her Calgary Public Library card.

 

As she looked at the card, which had become her pass to a better life, she pledged if she did live her dream, she’d give back.

 

This year, Kathie has done exactly that by donating $500 to the Library in recognition of how the institution helped change her life.

 

“Even though I then felt as though I had so many limitations, having the Library as a resource allowed me to see there was a future with other opportunities,” she said.

 

Kathie borrowed a book on higher education and noticed that the University of Athabasca offered online MBA programs without an undergraduate degree. After a few U of C courses, she successfully completed her Master’s.

 

Today, she works at her dream job as a business analyst but is painfully aware of the struggles many face and believes the Library offers hope—as it did for her 20 years ago.

“I have to travel on the train a lot and the reality hit me. I see many people in the day-to-day grind I was in. I also see lots of poverty and homelessness and people marginalized by income.”

 

“Even when I was going to school I thought, if I ever get to that place where I’m not so bound by finances I want to give back,” she added.

 

– Story by Chris Nelson

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Jaime Blackwood and Noel Robitaille

Each time Taylor and Charlotte celebrate a birthday, kids in Calgary get a gift.

 

Instead of presents the girls, aged four and two, are rewarded with donations into the Young Scientist Fund set up in their names with the Calgary Public Library.

 

Mom Dr. Jaime Blackwood and dad Noel Robitaille set up the fund last year, pledging to donate annually for a decade as a way to help youngsters not as fortunate as their own.

 

They also asked friends and relatives to forego the usual gifts on their daughters’ birthdays and donate instead, swelling the fund.

 

“We wanted to make a donation to something that would be available to everyone, especially kids from less privileged areas. We thought—the public library does that,” said Jaime, a pediatrician in critical care at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

 

“It seemed as though the Library could do a lot with our dollars to try and help children and we hope to encourage children, especially girls, to get interested in science and math,” she added.

 

Her husband Noel, regional director of business development operations for Irving Oil, said it’s important to provide access to knowledge for everyone and the Library fits that bill.

 

“We see the library as providing valuable building blocks for children of all backgrounds. Education is so important and the library is even more accessible since the decision was made to drop the annual membership fee,” he said.

 

Meanwhile Jaime is looking forward to explaining to her daughters in years to come how the birthday donations have helped other kids.

 

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the Library as to what they’ve done with the funds and making the children aware of that,” she added.

 

– By Chris Nelson

 

Support the Taylor & Charlotte Young Scientist Fund today!

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Peter Cutting

For Peter Cutting, giving is a “great way of life.”

 

As a long-time Library user, Peter hadn’t considered volunteering his time to the organization until a familiar librarian at the Village Square Library suggested he’d be perfect for the job.

 

In 2000, he started volunteering as an adult literacy coach, working one-on-one with students who were seeking to improve their reading and writing skills. Peter was “humbled by the experience,” of learners improving their literacy skills.

 

Once, Peter invited one of his learners to bake muffins. While he had the instructions printed so that they could check them as many times as needed, his learner only read them once because he memorized the whole procedure. Peter was amazed at his student’s ability to retain information.

 

In 2003, he became a member of the Library’s board for one year. This role gave Peter a greater understanding of how the Library is funded, and in turn, how it provides meaningful programs and activities for Calgarians.

 

“If I hadn’t had this experience on the board, I wouldn’t have realized how central the library is for Calgary. So many people benefit from it,” he notes.

 

In 2012, he took an opportunity that is still giving him joy today: the TD Read With Me program. This volunteer activity allows him to work with children to improve their reading abilities. When Peter started working with his current student, he was at a Grade 3 level, and has now started reading at a Grade 5 level—catching up with the advanced readers in his class. Peter notes, “I really get re-charged when I see how bright young minds work.”

 

While Peter does not have children of his own, working with the students in the TD Read with Me program, “feels like being with my own kids.”

 

Peter has seen firsthand the progress that people can make when given the opportunity, which motivated him to start making a monthly donation to the Calgary Public Library Foundation in 2014.

 

His connection to the Library and experiences as a volunteer also led him to make an important decision—naming the Library as a beneficiary in his will.

 

“My father was a missionary doctor, so I grew up in an environment of giving to others.”

 

Peter is certain that the Calgary Public Library is a very important part of life in Calgary. Directly or indirectly, people receive benefits from it, and through his charitable donations and his efforts as a volunteer, he hopes his influence will live on.

 

Story by Alicia Barreto Jaime

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Brian Gervais

Brian Gervais is thrilled to be joining the Board of Directors of the Calgary Public Library Foundation and promises to do everything he can to help the organization reach its goals.

 

Brian arrived in Calgary in 2014 as the Senior Vice President, Prairie Region for TD Canada Trust and is impressed with the changes the city has undergone since he last worked here a decade ago.

 

“It is a much different place than it was ten years ago, and it is great to see the city grow and progress. I think there are ways I can advance the agenda of the Library Foundation and I am thrilled to be joining. I’ll help in any way I can,” he said.

 

He added that progress is evident in Calgary’s library system, one he has quickly learned to love, along with his wife and three daughters.

 

“It is a very progressive organization and institution. The move to make the Library accessible to everyone by making library cards free is an example—new Canadians coming to the city can benefit from that. It is incredibly progressive. When I drop my youngest daughter off at Signal Hill, I see great throngs of people going into the library,” he said.

 

The TD Bank Group is a great supporter of Calgary’s libraries. Recently, TD made a $1 million donation to the Library, supporting the Great Reading Room planned for the New Central Library and the Family Program Room at the Fish Creek Library.

 

“The bank has always been a supporter of children’s literacy and, personally, I have seen the impact libraries and reading has had on my kids,” he said.

 

In November, Brian held his first annual meeting with the 200 TD branch managers in his region. He surprised them by having a ‘day of giving’ as part of the agenda.

 

“We sent a couple of managers over to the Central Library to read to kids for an afternoon. It was great to see our employees when they came back and told their stories about the impact it had on the kids,” he added.

 

– Story by Chris Nelson

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

The Kaminsky Family

“Libraries are awesome,” says Heather Kaminsky. She and her husband Kurtis have been donating to the Library for more than five years.

 

They frequently visit the Louise Riley location with their four-year-old son. One of their fondest memories as a family is when their child got his very first card. He was less than a week old.

 

“We come here on a regular basis. He picks and chooses which books he wants to take home,” describes Kurtis. His son likes books about dinosaurs, and when asked about his favourite thing in the Library, he immediately mentions the computer.

 

Heather and Kurtis originally donated to the Library Foundation on an annual basis, but decided to switch to monthly giving because it provides reliable support for Library services.

 

“I really think that the Library provides such a foundation for community. Everybody can come, and they don’t have to pay for a membership. That’s awesome,” explains Heather. She wants to make sure this service continues.

 

Kurtis notes the importance of “curated knowledge.” From his perspective, while the Internet offers a lot of sources of information, there are still some obstacles, and libraries help overcome them.

 

“One of the barriers is knowing how to find what you want. That’s what people in libraries are trained to do. Their skills serve a purpose.”

 

Both share the vision of living in a more literate society. They’ve heard that the ongoing economic crisis is resulting in cuts to library budgets in other provinces, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen in Calgary.

 

Heather believes that libraries provide hope, inspiration and increase culture in a community—which, combined, are a driving force for the economy.

 

“If you have a literate, inspired, creative and connected community, you will have a healthy economy.”

 

At the same time, she and her husband want their children to see the Library as a fun place to spend time and learn, which makes their connection to it even stronger.

 

– Story by Alicia Barreto Jaime

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Patricia and Sherrold Moore

Printing her name on that first library card remains a lasting memory for former Calgary schoolteacher and well-known philanthropist Patricia Moore.

 

She was only a young girl—not yet in school—when she proudly took possession of her card at the Memorial Park Library back in the 1930s.

 

These days Patricia and her husband Sherrold, a former oil executive, are renowned for generously supporting many causes—among them the Calgary Public Library.

 

“I got my first library card before I went to school. Then you could get a card as soon as you could print your name. I printed my first name only, as far as I can remember, and that was one of the most lasting memories of my life—having my own library card,” said Patricia.

 

It’s why she and her husband proudly support the library system as it seeks to help today’s youngsters, many of whom would otherwise not have access to books and other learning materials.

 

“I was a schoolteacher in junior high for almost 40 years. I preferred teaching in areas that were less affluent and some of those families had no books, so if there was no library how would children learn about the world?” added Patricia.

 

Patricia grew up in Calgary during the Great Depression and the war that followed. Then many families didn’t have money for books either. Taking books from the Memorial Park Library became her family’s weekly tradition.

 

“Every Saturday morning the whole family would go to the Library and get out two books each and on our way home we’d stop and get a bag of candy. That evening we would sit around the candy dish and read our books. I have such fond memories of the Library,” she added.

 

– by Chris Nelson

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

The Nicholls Family

Calgary’s libraries are emerging as increasingly important to a thriving community—in 2015, the Calgary Public Library welcomed 6.2 million visitors through its doors.

 

This may seem strange in the age of the internet, a time when conventional wisdom holds that libraries are an anachronism. But Brenda and Greig Nicholls see it from the opposite perspective, as a local organization with which the community needs to catch up.

 

The Nicholls are part of Calgary’s philanthropic community, and over the years have supported numerous causes. The Calgary Public Library is the first cause they have actually joined, not only with their time, but by stepping up with a transformational $1 million gift. As Mrs. Nicholls said, “people give to things that touch their lives.”

 

Both of the Nicholls call themselves “avid readers” but you get the sense voracious may be a better description. Books have been important to them over the years as individuals but also as parents raising their now-grown son, Alex, a software engineer.

 

Mrs. Nicholls attributes much of his talent to library and library-connected programs allowing Alex to develop an important combination of artistry and computer skills.

 

Brenda and Greig are instrumental to the work of the Calgary Public Library Foundation—Brenda as a director on the foundation’s board, Greig as a member of its Council of Champions. Mrs. Nicholls points out, “when you give to the Library, you give to the whole city.”

 

Perhaps unlike many Calgarians, the Nicholls know that Calgary’s libraries are about more than books and touch many lives in different ways.

 

One of the least known ways the Library supports the community is with new Canadians, especially refugees, struggling to integrate with new, sometime frightening communities.

 

As Mr. Nicholls comments, refugees often look at the Library as “a safe place.” The Nicholls tell of a towering young man, a refugee from war-torn Somali, in a library to read a magazine. Sports Illustrated and its basketball coverage satisfied the young man’s interests and help to build his English skills and understanding of North American culture.

 

Reminiscing about Calgary, where both grew up, Mr. Nicholls commented on the importance of libraries in their schools. He well remembered school visits by the Calgary Public Library’s Book Mobile offering he and his chums a broader book selection.

 

In the 21st Century, schools are hard pressed to maintain large libraries. “They (school boards) can’t compete with what the (Calgary) Library offers,” Mr. Nicholls said.

 

They see the recently reinstated Book Mobile, now called Book Trucks, as part of the library system’s support for students, indeed for a cause close to Mrs. Nicholl’s heart – life-long-learning.

 

Discussing the Library, and their reasons for involvement, Mrs. Nicholls remarks, “there is way more to the Library than just borrowing books.”

 

Measured by the number of items checked out, Calgary libraries are among the busiest in North America. “I think that will get bigger in the future,” Mrs. Nicholls says.

 

The Nicholls’ belief in and commitment to Calgary’s libraries is a major factor in their decision to step up as Add In Founding Partners of the Library Foundation’s $350 million campaign. This commitment will be recognised by naming of the Nicholls Family Library at Westbrook Station.

 

This library is a Calgary first—a transit-orientated library, part of the C-Train system, ensuring access to information, knowledge and support within easy reach of Calgarians.

 

Through their contribution of time and resources to the Calgary Library Foundation, the Nicholls are helping to create the world’s best public library. The Nicholls Family Library at Westbrook Station will be their legacy to the city that they love and an organisation that has always been a big part of the life of their family.

 

– Story by Brenton Harding

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Helen Smith

Helen Smith*, a retired teacher and school librarian whose life was shaped by her love of reading is giving back to the Calgary Public Library.

 

For 20 years, the woman watched and helped youngsters in the Calgary public school system fall under the spell of books and she hopes her future gift—in the form of a life insurance policy—will continue that wonderful work once she is gone.

 

While she has decided to remain anonymous regarding her donation, she wanted to share her desire to pass along her love of reading, which was first ignited by a trip to the hospital as a young girl.

 

“I can remember when I was nine years old and in the General Hospital having my appendix out. My mother brought me two books; the Bobbsey Twins and Peter Pan and Wendy. When I read them, I really fell in love with books,” she said.

 

Years later, she was teaching school in Calgary but decided to go back to university to take librarianship courses that she could combine with her classroom career.

 

“I was a teacher first and I went back to university and took some courses in library studies. When I stop to think of why I did it, I believe it was because of the millions upon millions of ideas that are collected together in printed form and can’t be destroyed,” she said.

 

Once at university, she recalls a startling discovery.

 

“Researchers had taken a CT scan of people reading and also one of people watching television. Those who were reading their entire brains were lit up and vibrant. Those who were watching TV, well their brains were fairly dull and dim,” she added.

 

 *Name has been changed at the donor’s request

 

– Story by Chris Nelson

DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Robin Terentiuk

Robin Terentiuk was four years old when her grandmother taught her a valuable lesson that opened up the wonderful world of learning.

 

It was simple—how to print her name—but the consequences have lasted a lifetime.

 

By doing so, Robin could have a library card and visit the Edmonton library where her grandmother worked. Even more exciting was the fact that she could take out some of the wonderful books inside.

 

“My mother’s father died relatively young and my grandmother went to work at the public library. One of my earliest recollections was of her teaching me to print my name because it was a prerequisite for getting a library card.”

 

“I wrote my name on a card and suddenly I had access to all these books,” she added.

 

Robin’s love of books has remained throughout her life and now she is giving back through a five-year funding commitment towards the adult learning centre planned for Calgary’s New Central Library.

 

Robin and her late husband, Fred, were long-time supporters of literacy and education. While she knew she wanted to support the Calgary Public Library, Robin decided to think beyond writing a cheque.

 

“I’ve begun a five-year donation of stocks. It gives me a tax advantage and gives the Library money after they convert the securities into cash,” she said.

 

Through the Library Foundation, Robin has found a balance between reducing items in her home and feeding her love of reading.

 

“The house was so full of books I decided it was preferable to start getting things from the Library, but I began feeling guilty about not contributing to the income of the authors. That’s when I began to make a donation to the Library Foundation,” she said.

 

– Story by Chris Nelson

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Judith Umbach

The world is Judith Umbach’s oyster and everywhere she visits she looks for a pearl.

 

In Judith’s case that natural gemstone is a library—a place she’s felt at home ever since her mom would take her as a youngster in her native Calgary.

 

To recognize and acknowledge that affinity Judith has made arrangements for a sizeable donation to Calgary’s library system in her will—something she urges others to consider.

 

“It doesn’t mean you need cash on hand—it’s difficult for many of us to say ‘I’m giving something right now’—but for many people it can be possible to make a legacy donation,” said Judith, shortly before leaving on another overseas adventure to southern Africa.

 

Once there she intends visiting local libraries—something she’s done whenever in a new city or country.

 

“Wherever I am traveling, I always look for the library then go inside and get a feel for it and the culture I am in,” she said.

 

Judith, who worked for many years in information technology for the City of Calgary, was appointed to the Public Library Board in 1996 and served as chair for eight of 12 rewarding years.

 

Now she chairs the Council of Champions of the Calgary Public Library Foundation where she is helping spearhead fundraising to augment services at the planned new Central Library.

 

She is also a keen photographer, with her images of our ever-changing Calgary being housed as a Library collection. She’s now recording the rise of the new Central Library in the East Village.

 

“I took some photos when there was nothing on the land, then they were drilling cores and now they’re getting on with the encapsulating of the LRT. It is a very exciting project,” said Judith.

 

– Story by Chris Nelson, Photo by Rob McMorris Photography

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Myles Waito

“Volunteering is a commitment. Making a difference is what keeps me going.”

 

For two years, Myles Waito has been generously devoting his time to the Calgary Public Library Foundation with the mantra “make it work.”

 

Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Myles gets to work on the second floor of the Memorial Park Library. All the computing fun happens at his desk as he makes sure that the variables and queries of the Library Foundation’s database function properly.

 

Myles enjoys working with data—a skill he first learned when volunteering at the Calgary Police Service’s Youthlink Division, where he created three e-books. He defines himself as a helper whose reward is “psychological income,” a perk that allows him to enjoy the jokes, conversations and gatherings that the team organizes.

 

Myles first visited the Calgary Public Library as a patron, and never imagined that volunteering would become such a large part of his life. In 2015, he was recognized for his drive and dedication at the Calgary Public Library’s Volunteer Awards. “I had to pull myself off the floor because I never in my life expected to get it.”

 

His commitment to the Library has also translated to a donation. As Myles grew fonder of the Library, he decided to make a legacy gift in his will by designating 70% of his estate to keep supporting the “wonderful service” that it provides in Calgary.

 

Myles believes that a donation at any level supports the promotion of literacy and encourages others to consider donating by going through the website to learn more about the options available.

 

“By contributing a little bit of money, the Library can buy a book or run a program. It’s a way of helping out,” he says.

 

Myles’ personal and professional experiences have led him to value the importance of genuinely caring for people, and above all, loving what he is doing.

 

“The Calgary Public Library is all about having fun,” he says with a wide smile on his face.

 

Story by Alicia Barreto Jaime

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DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Tess Wilton

Each time six-year-old Tess Wilton uses her library card, she is reminded of the final steps in her marathon fund-raising effort.

 

The youngster, from the Hillhurst community of Calgary, raised more than $400 in pledges from family and friends after successfully running 42 kilometers last summer.

 

Tess was adamant the money raised should go towards helping animals and families, so the proceeds were split between the Calgary Public Library and the Alberta Wilderness Association.

 

With the money donated to the Library Tess received her own, personalized library card bearing an image of her completing the last two-kilometer segment of her charitable journey.

 

Her proud mom, Jan Althea Ooi, said the youngster started slowly but once she was halfway through the marathon distance she started to run almost every day.

 

“She started with a loop of 500 meters that we had measured and she would do that twice to reach a kilometer. Then she built up from there,” said Jan.

 

Tess, who has an older and younger brother, made her own decision about donating money to the library.

 

“She wanted to raise money for two organizations—one to help families and one to help animals. She didn’t decide right away exactly which ones they’d be, but thought about them during the summer and then she came up with it herself that the one to help families would be the Library,” said Jan.

 

The family, who use the Louise Riley Library, often joined Tess running.

 

“It ended up being a family project as well because she needed someone to run with her wherever she went,” said her mom.

 

– Story by Chris Nelson

Founding Partners

Add In Founding Partners are the first supporters who have stepped forward to help us achieve our ambitious goal. As leaders in our city, their support will enable individuals and our community to reach its full potential, contribute to economic and social growth within our city, impact individuals and the community in a way that can be measured in dollars and cents and leave a legacy that will last for generations.

  • Judith Umbach
  • Deirdre & Ian Harris
  • Greig & Brenda Nicholls
  • Linda & Mike Shaikh
  • Britt Simmons & Janet Harvie
  • Nexen
  • RBC
  • TD
  • Sun Life Financial
  • Calgary Foundation
  • BMO Financial Group

Partners

  • City of Calgary
  • CMLC