Sometimes it takes a major event in your life to make you think about the kind of story you want your life to tell. The stories behind the gifts Leave a Legacy month seeks to highlight are rich and varied, touching, often heartbreaking, but have one thing in common a family has a moment where they think about their lifes story and they act on it.
For Darlene Bessey and Ken Pontikes, that moment was the arrival of their daughter Zoe in 1999. They became parents later in life and had already established lives and careers that were focused on building community resilience and taking an active role with organizations they saw doing good work. Like so many families, the arrival of a baby and all the responsibilities that come along with raising a child prompted Darlene and Ken to ensure their daughter would be looked after, should anything happen to them. At the same time, given their fundamental belief in the importance of being engaged and active citizens, they worked with Saskatoon Community Foundation to create a bequest for the Darlene Bessey and Ken Pontikes Family Fund.
Darlene and Ken chose three organizations that are near to their hearts to benefit from their bequest, Meewasin Valley Authority, YWCA of Saskatoon, and Crossroads International. These organizations represent areas of tremendous importance to them: conservation and protection of the local environment in Saskatoon; providing shelter and support to women and children in crisis; and working for equality of women and girls and the eradication of poverty around the world. 20 years later, those issues are more relevant now, says Darlene. We know Saskatoon Community Foundation will always be there and will be able to assist organizations through funding as well as building capacity. Saskatoon Community Foundation’s vehicle [endowment bequest agreement] makes it so much easier to make all of the arrangements.
As 20 years have passed and Zoe has grown up, the reasons for creating their family fund have not changed. They still want to ensure that Zoe has what she needs, but now that she is an adult, an important part of that is being actively involved in supporting her community. Their gifts every year are a family decision as Zoe’s parents have been sure to include her in these conversations as a way to pass on both their commitment to community and to share with her the richness that giving has provided them in their lives. The whole family have always been active volunteers and believe strongly that they have a responsibility to participate and help create the kind of community they want to be a part of. We give a lot of time and are happy to do that as part of a community that we love.
The Bessey-Pontikes family’s story of giving is one of connection, legacy, and love. Saskatoon Community Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to share their story and grateful that they chose to act on their desire to preserve that connection forever.