Véronique Loewen describes her passion for philanthropy and why she created the Verolingo Fund:
I wanted to be able to contribute meaningfully now and in the future to the well-being of our community. I have witnessed the good that so many people and community organizations do in Saskatoon and beyond and I wanted to do my part for the long term. I have been able to prosper in this community and it is a privilege for me to be able to contribute in this way. I firmly believe that every little bit helps. My contribution may be modest but it is heartfelt.
Newcomer settlement, autism and French language and culture are all areas that matter deeply to me, so I wanted to focus on them. Although I see a need for assistance in so many other areas, I thought I would start with these three.
I am an immigrant. I was born in France and raised in Paris’ suburbs and on the French island of Martinique in the Caribbean. I moved to Saskatoon in 1993 (I initially came in 1991 as a student) and became a “landed immigrant” in 1994, when I married my first husband. I became a Canadian citizen in January 2000. I have two stepsons (Dakoda and Katlin) and a natural son (Logan) from my first marriage. My second husband has two sons (Javen and Zane). All our sons are now adults. After spending 25 years working in the uranium mining industry, I started my own communications and translation consultancy in February 2020. My company is called Verolingo Communications.
Within months of becoming a permanent resident in Saskatoon, I started volunteering for various organizations. At first it was a way to meet people but it quickly became a passion when I saw the good that was being done by so many volunteers. Also, during my 25 years in the mining industry, I was charged with administering my employer’s (Orano Canada) community investment portfolio. This role gave me the opportunity to interact with many community, charitable, and non-profit organizations, their staff and volunteers and gain an appreciation for the great needs in our community and also the great generosity of so many. I firmly believe that if we all do a bit to the best of our ability, it does make a difference for many.
I have volunteered with many organizations since moving to Saskatoon, including among others Saskatoon Immigrant Women, Saskatoon Autism Services, Afro-Caribbean Association, Multicultural Association, L’Alliance Française, Le Relais, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Silverwood Height Community Association, United Way, Women in mining/women in nuclear of Saskatchewan, St-Paul’s Hospital Foundation, Saskatoon Zoo Foundation, Jim Pattison Children Hospital Foundation, Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan, Prairieland Park, Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation, etc. I have canvassed door-to-door, organized fundraisers, sold tickets to events, solicited donations in kind and in cash and donated my time and money as much as I could. I still do.
I chose the areas of newcomer settlement to honour my past as an immigrant (although my journey was pretty easy compared to so many as I came of my free will to experience something different and I spoke both official languages), autism because that was one of the first organizations I volunteered with and my husband’s son is on the spectrum, and French because that is my heritage and a language that has helped me provide for my family as a translator. My hopes is that someday my son and stepsons will be able to continue to contribute and help it grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions and add other areas of focus if they want and funds allow.
I wanted to do something that would have an immediate impact and last in the long term. I wanted to have an instrument that would allow the donation to continue to give beyond the initial amount. It is truly a monetary investment in the community rather than a one-time gift. I wanted to leave somewhat of a legacy for the city that welcomed me and allowed me to grow and prosper. The Saskatoon Community Foundation fund format allowed me to make that investment a reality. Having seen the Saskatoon Community Foundation’s annual reports, their processes, and the dedication of its staff and volunteers, I wanted to contribute to their work in and for the community.
You don’t have to be rich to do this, you just have to want to start. The process is easy, it starts with a conversation to figure out the goals, the donation format and frequency and the Saskatoon Community Foundation staff takes care of everything. A fund such as this one allows you to watch your impact grow and most importantly to know that it will give in perpetuity, long after you die, it will continue to help the community. It feels good to know that your donation can grow and continue to do good.