My first experience as a volunteer was working with a youth organization providing a summer camp experience to underprivileged First Nation’s children. As a naïve 15-year-old, it opened my eyes to the wide cultural and economic differences that exist in Canada. However, this divide can be bridged through sharing one’s time, resources, compassion and, most importantly, understanding.
My experience with philanthropy has taught me the importance of proactively seeking out and supporting those organizations making a difference in our community. Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island is providing me with an opportunity to give back and tangibly find ways to make a difference in the lives of our most precious resource—children and youth on Vancouver Island.
For as long as I can remember, I have participated in philanthropy through my church, but when I moved to Victoria, I wanted to get more involved in the community to meet people and help me settle into my new city. I first volunteered with the Victoria committee of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, co-chairing An Affair to Remember and sitting on the first organizing committee of the Festival of Trees. A few years later, I volunteered for the first Women of Distinction awards at the YMCA/YWCA of Greater Victoria and subsequently joined their board, serving two six-year terms.
It was my son, Seamus, who led me to the Board of Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. Ever since his 9th birthday, ten years ago, he has held a road hockey tournament and asked friends and family to make a donation to the Foundation. His dedication to helping kids with disabilities and health challenges inspired me to make that same commitment.
My first experience with giving began through the United Way. For many years, I have donated to the United Way through the workplace giving campaign, and over time my understanding has grown from simply “checking the box” for a pay cheque deduction to learning more about the wide range of people and services that our donations support. I have always been impressed with the support that the Victoria community provides through the United Way and everyone who contributes should be justifiably proud.
Becoming a member of Children’s Health Foundation's Board is an opportunity for me to do more than donate dollars—I am hoping to have larger impact on both the future of the Foundation and our Island community by providing my expertise and knowledge to the Foundation and also by encouraging others to lend their time. Having met the leadership and staff and learned more about the programs supported by the Foundation, I am both excited and honoured to be a member of the Board of Directors.
Born and raised in Victoria, I learned about the importance and value of contributing to the community through my mother, who volunteered at the hospital and was part of the Gorge Road Women’s Auxiliary. Wanting to do my part, I joined Girl Guides, and together with my best friend, became involved in community service and making a difference in Victoria.
Through my legal practice, I continue to help where I can by doing pro bono work, mentoring new lawyers, and serving on committees; nevertheless, I wanted to expand my outreach and do something connected to my interest in children and families but not necessarily related to my profession. When I heard of the opening on the board of Children’s Health Foundation, I thought “wow, what an opportunity!” I have been aware of the Foundation’s work since I was child, and being on the Board is a wonderful way to honour my mother’s volunteer work in the health field, which is what inspired me all those years ago.
Years ago, I was part of the Buffalo City Kinsman, a local community service group in Regina. We received a request to support a boy in a wheelchair whose family transported him in a small car; as the boy entered his teen years, the family struggled to transport him in the vehicle. We took on the challenge of raising the funds to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van for the family. It was a great feeling to present the keys to the parents.
Someone recently said to me that there is no better feeling than philanthropy — you can donate dollars, which is critical to any charitable organization, but you can also lend expertise, which increases the potential of a Foundation such as ours. My commitment to Children’s Health Foundation serves another purpose — it helps me show my teenagers daughters the importance of philanthropy and the impact it can have on making our community a better place to live.
As a member of our community I have always tried to be aware of the needs of children. As an educator, I met many students with significant needs and that motivated me to become a Shriner,where I had the privilege to serve for two terms. I then joined Help Fill A Dream where I served on the Board for 12 years.
These volunteer experiences led to the opportunity to join the Board of Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island and support the outstanding work the Foundation does supporting children and their families on Vancouver Island. I was fortunate to be involved in the planning and building of Jeneece Place, and I continue as a volunteer to support Jeneece Place in any way I can.
Blair Hagkull is the International Director and Managing Director of Jones Lang Lasalle Canada, a global real estate services firm specializing in commercial property management. His industry, corporate board and executive roles have been varied, from global organizations to a regional real estate investment advisory organization and a hotel development group. He served as chair of the Urban Land Institute, Middle East and Africa chapter, and as a Trustee of the American School of Dubai.
Dr. Frank Jagdis graduated from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, in 1968. Since 1976, he has been a pediatrician in Victoria. At the University of British Columbia, he was a Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics and a Clinical Assistant Professor for many years. He has special expertise in the area of infectious diseases. He has received numerous awards and distinctions, and his service to the community has been outstanding. Now retired, Dr. Jagdis continues to make a difference in the lives of Island children by serving on the Board of Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.
There are countless ways to help others. From a young age, I was taught the value of being a part of a community and committing time and effort for the greater good. As a teenager, I spent many Februaries in Winnipeg going door-to-door canvassing for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. For every door that did not open, there were twice as many people who donated to the cause—or at least offered me a warm foyer. Whether it was canvassing, candy striping, or reading books to kids at the local drop-in centre, I understood that one of the most valuable things I could donate was my time.
I consider it an enormous privilege to join the Board of Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. I hope that my experiences working with children and their families as a pediatrician can provide a frontline perspective on the real challenges facing people in our community. I am also excited to continue to grow strong roots in this city, which has welcomed me and my family.
As a student in university, I spent time volunteering at a summer camp for children with disabilities made possible through charitable support. These were poor kids from rough neighbourhoods with serious disabilities. Most were in tough circumstances. It was such a joy to help, and they were so appreciative of the opportunity to just play with one another. I learned that going out of your way to provide a little help can have a huge impact on people.
I joined the Board of Children's Health Foundation because I believe in the work they do. Helping people is a core value of mine, and I have seen the difference that good programs can make in the lives of children with disabilities and health challenges. Making sure funding is available for those programs is important work, and I’m glad to be part of it.
One of the most rewarding volunteer experiences I have been fortunate to be involved with is my work with the Gillard Pass Fisheries Association. Working with a team of volunteers to restore chinook salmon populations on the south central coast of B.C. has been extremely gratifying. Being a fish biologist from a small community, it is rewarding to be helping preserve salmon populations in the “wild” areas of our province.
I was very honoured and excited to have been asked to join the board of the Children’s Health Foundation. While my family and I had come to know some of the staff through our involvement with Jeneece Place, it was the annual Butterfly Ball fundraiser that ultimately led to my long-term involvement. I hope to be able to contribute, via my involvement with the Board, in the years to come.
My concern for the plight of children with treatable physical disabilities in under-resourced areas led me and my family to undertake a six-year project in Uganda, East Africa, between 1996 and 2002. I established a comprehensive children’s orthopaedic rehabilitation program there, which has since become a model project. The Uganda Clubfoot Project, which developed from the program I began, has gained international attention and is now patterned in many other developing nations.
Since returning to Canada in 2002, I have worked to establish a specialty children’s orthopaedic service for Vancouver Island. The Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health became my centre of activity, with regular outreach to child development centres in Nanaimo and Courtenay. Joining the Board of Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island was a natural fit with my professional interests and my belief that volunteerism is a way we can better our communities and the world.
In my last year of medical school and the first year of my residency, I travelled to Honduras with a group of medical and dental professionals to offer clinics in rural communities. I remember seeing children with medical issues that caused them great trouble, issues that, had the children been born in Canada, would have been resolved at a young age. We are lucky to have access to excellent care in Canada. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are, especially when we don’t experience the alternative.
Through my position at the First Nations Health Authority, my colleagues and I are working to ensure our knowledge and access to resources meets the needs of First Nations children in the province. My work in this area led me to join the Board of Children’s Health Foundation—I am able to be a voice for First Nations children and advocate for their needs as the Foundation works to improve the health of all children on Vancouver Island.