Q&A with Darlene Varleau, Donor
Darlene supports international projects. She volunteers with ‘Half the Sky Canada’ which provides nurturing care for China’s orphans. She rewrote her will to include an endowment that will be managed by her goddaughters who were adopted from an orphanage in China.
Why did you set up an endowment in your will requesting that your godchildren, Elizabeth and Madeleine, manage grant making from the endowment?
Elizabeth and Madeleine were adopted from China into a very comfortable household in Toronto. There’s not much I can leave the girls financially. But I can give them the gift of giving. Through this, I hope they develop a greater understanding of the world.
Elizabeth is only 6 years old, and her sister Madeleine is 4. They were left on a street in China but have ended up in a wonderful home in Canada. My hope is that they will eventually give back to the world as adults.
How did you come up with the idea?
I don’t have any children so my entire will is made out to charity. While updating my will, I decided to segment it off and provide for my goddaughters. I also want to sponsor a foster child and perhaps go and visit this child with my goddaughters in the future.
Why is philanthropy so important to you?
Philanthropy enriches my life. It helps put my life in perspective, and puts me in touch with people I admire and respect. It’s wonderful to be involved with people who give to others.
Do you remember your first experience of philanthropy?
At a workshop on philanthropy, I was asked about my priorities. I realized the causes close to my heart are women and the environment. I then became more involved with Amnesty International and World Wildlife Fund. With Amnesty in Guatemala I learned how important it was to have independent UN observers to help stop government atrocities.