Adventurous, kind and helpful are among the many words friends and family would use to describe the late Norman Rousseau, but there is one word that sticks out to his nieces, Jennifer Lubey and Joan Rousseau: philanthropist.
A successful businessman, Norman enjoyed being able to help out his community and those around him.
“You would never know to look at him that he had any money,” says Joan. “He was a humble man. For him, it was always about making the world a better place.”
Causes related to mental health were particularly special to Norman. His younger sister, Eva, lives with mental illness, and he dedicated himself to ensuring that she was always given the best care and was happy.
After his passing in 2015, the Covenant Foundation learned that it was one of the six healthcare organizations to receive one last gift from his estate.
The foundation worked closely with Norman’s nieces to ensure that his final act of philanthropy was a true and genuine reflection of his wishes and personality. After careful consideration, they decided to use Norman’s donation to help build a rooftop garden for the residents on the Complex Care unit at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
Residents on this unit are dealing with complex mental health issues and spend most of their time inside. This garden will give patients and staff safe and easy access to the outdoors and give them the chance to get some fresh air.
“We do a lot of good things but there is some stuff we haven't been able to do,” says Val. “To be able to do something like this for them, it means a lot to us and the residents.”
The foundation will use Norman’s gift to ensure that the roof is safe and secure for the residents and will get the necessary items to make the garden a true oasis. They will also continue working with Norman’s family to ensure that everyone has input into the garden's final look and feel.
“Norman's gift is going to touch so many residents directly and will exist for many years to come,” says Laura Ruddock, Acting Director of Philanthropy. “A number of patients and residents are going to benefit from his generosity in a way that will truly improve their quality of life.”
Information on planned giving
Gifts like Norman’s are what’s known as planned giving: committing to leave a gift to a charity of one’s choice after one has passed. These donations have great impact and help ensure that the spirit of philanthropy lives on. Bequests of property or money are most common. In Norman’s case, the bequest was a specific donation to the Edmonton General, but bequests are also made without condition for general purposes. Endowment gifts transfer money or property, with the understanding that the capital be invested with the principal remaining intact to provide continual and long-term impact. Regardless of the kind of gift, due to the sensitive nature of planned giving, it is important to consult with financial and legal advisers to ensure the wishes of a loved one are clearly known. Norman’s legacy will continue to live on and grow in the beautiful garden that his generosity and giving spirit made real.
Have a story to share about health care? An idea for an article? We value all contributions.