Kirsten and barb are using their Will to power women’s equality

After two long, busy careers, one big move, and 20 years together, barb and Kirsten are settling into their life of retirement in Victoria. But that doesn’t mean the couple don’t keep busy. In fact, their newfound freedom is giving them the time to pursue philanthropic pursuits, which they have fully embraced.

Before retiring, barb worked as a teacher and with the teacher’s union for 33 years in Manitoba and Kirsten, also a former teacher, spent most of her career as a labour relations officer with the Manitoba Nurses Union, in addition to time also spent working for the teacher’s union.

“These are women-based organizations, we really saw lots of areas of concern with how women are dealt with in the world and their employment situations,” said Kirsten. “So those were some of the themes that cropped up for us over the years.”

The couple had been coming to Victoria regularly since 2008 as a holiday destination and, upon retirement, decided to move to Victoria fulltime in 2015 to enjoy the better weather and be closer to Kirsten’s mom.

After about a year of adjusting to their newfound freedom in retirement, barb and Kirsten began to consider how they could contribute to their new community by way of philanthropy. They started doing some volunteering while researching and considering ways to contribute financially. To help them decide the best path forward, the pair turned to the Victoria Foundation.

barb and Kristen

“We wanted to focus our donations through an organization that we trust, that is stable, and that will have a discussion with us around where the money is going and what are the best options,” said barb. “It wasn’t just writing a cheque and hoping it’s used in the right way, it was talking to somebody and looking at the possibilities.”

Close to the couple’s hearts are causes that help and support women, a direct result of their work experiences. Both barb and Kirsten saw firsthand just how unequal women can be treated, financially, socially, and otherwise, and they both believe strongly in the importance of providing women with the resources and support they need to thrive.

“We really believe in leveling the playing field a little bit more by putting some resources toward providing a leg-up to women who might not otherwise have the opportunities,” said Kirsten. “Those are the things we saw in the world, so those are the areas where we want to effect some change.”

Another cause barb especially holds dear is in the realm of animal protection and care. Supporting organizations that shelter and rescue animals or help rehabilitate wild animals is therefore also high on their list of philanthropic priorities. They also put their funds towards areas related to wealth disparity, including food security and organizations that support low-income families.

Inspired by their own philanthropic activities, the couple is always quick to encourage others to give and support whatever causes they care about in whatever way they can. In fact, they jokingly say their friends are likely tired of hearing about.

“Maybe that’s why the dinner invitations have dried up,” barb said. “But in all seriousness, we do encourage people.”

One way the couple encourages others to give is via a Will. While they stress the joy and satisfaction of seeing their donations make a difference in their lifetime, they believe that leaving a gift in a Will to a beloved charity or cause is an effective way to leave a legacy and ensure the good work you support continues long into the future.

“At a certain point in your life, you need to think about where you want your money to go, and where it will have some impact,” said barb. “Rather than being in the back of your mind or something you do on a whim, you need to really think about what you want your legacy to be.”

To help people like barb and Kirsten find the information and resources they need to make the decision to leave a gift in their Will, the Victoria Foundation has partnered with Will Power, a national campaign encouraging Canadians to consider charitable giving when planning their estate. Even a small portion of your estate can make a big difference towards the charities and causes of your choice, all while ensuring your loved ones are also supported.

To learn more about how you can use the power of your Will, visit the Victoria Foundation’s Will Power webpage.