Ottawa children’s charity lands $1 million endowment from Vancouver donor

Published: November 18, 2013

Bonnie Cappuccino poses with some of the many children she and her husband Fred have helped throught their charity Child Haven International. Ottawa Citizen.


There is a good chance Bonnie and Fred Cappuccino’s lifelong mission to help destitute women and children across South Asia will endure long after their deaths thanks to a generous $1-million donation.

The founders of Child Haven International, which operates nine homes in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet out of its headquarters in Maxville, a tiny hamlet about an hour east of Ottawa, received the fateful call on Halloween from a donor in Vancouver.

The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, normally gives $100,000 a year, but this time she told them she was sending a larger donation.

It was only after the Cappuccinos were notified by their broker that the transaction for $1,019,424.41 was completed that it sunk in.

“The best thing about it is this woman had gone around with Bonnie on at least two of her trips,” Fred explained Friday in a telephone interview (Bonnie left on Nov. 4 for a six-week trip to Asia).

“She saw all of the programs (and) her evaluation was that this program was worth $1 million, and that was very gratifying.”

The money is a huge boost to an endowment fund created in July – on the occasion of Bonnie and Fred’s 60th wedding anniversary – to ensure Child Haven’s longevity. People have been asking for years what would happen when Fred and Bonnie aren’t around anymore.

“Our friends said, ‘Let’s parlay that into some money for when you guys croak, so we set up the croak committee and they set up the Diamond Jubilee Endowment Fund,” Fred said with a laugh.

They’ve already collected about $1.25 million, and hope to reach $6 million.

The Cappuccino’s backstory is fascinating.

Fred was born in Scranton, Pa., and Bonnie in St. Paul, Minn., but they met in Evanston, Ill., in 1953.

He was in his last year of school at a Methodist seminary and she was in her first year of nurses training.

Soon after they married, they vowed to have only two biological children because they didn’t want to increase the world’s population, an uncommon notion at the time. “If she wanted more than two (children), then we would adopt one or two,” Fred said. “But she gets carried away.”

They eventually adopted 19 children from all over the world and moved to Canada in 1967 so Fred could take up a position as a unitarian minister in Pointe-Claire, Que. It was there that the couple’s mission to help poor women and children took on global proportions.

The Vietnam War was raging at the time and Bonnie wanted to rescue “at least one baby,” as Fred recalled.

She eventually prevailed and, after a local newspaper wrote a story about the adoption, other local couples contacted them to figure out how they could do the same thing.

They soon started the organization Families for Children out of the church basement and brought between 700 and 800 children from Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia to Canada for adoption.

In 1972, the organization led a Canadian group to war-torn Bangladesh to rescue starving orphans. Fred recalled returning with 15 babies less than a year old, all of them piled into a 747 for the 14-hour flight from New Delhi to New York.

Two years later, the family bought an $8,000 farm near Maxville and it was from there that they launched Child Haven International in 1985. Even though they had already adopted 19 children, Bonnie realized she could take care of even more children if the organization set up homes in the countries where they were needed.

Following the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi – equality, non-violence, vegetarianism – they began by establishing homes in India, eventually expanding to Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet.

Approximately 1,300 children live in the nine houses now, and about the same number have lived in them over the years.

“Once in a while a child comes back … which is very gratifying,” Fred said.

The children arrive at age six or younger, he said, and they stay until the end of high school, at which point Bonnie and the house manager sit down with the child and decide on a vocation for them to pursue.

Child Haven has no corporate sponsor or ongoing government support, instead relying on annual donations of about $1.5 million.

It has about 150 overseas staff and five others who work out of the Maxville office. Fred

and Bonnie share an annual salary of $45,000.

At 79, Bonnie still goes on four overseas trips a year, while Fred, 87, stays behind to keep the home fires burning. “She goes over there and has all that fun, and leaves me stuck here doing all the work,” he said.

But it’s those fires that have fuelled him all these years.

“What’s kept me going is Bonnie. It’s just such a privilege to have somebody like that in my life.

“I think when Bonnie’s gone, there’s going to be a real shock to the system. There’s only one Bonnie and I think it’s going to be harder to raise money.”

To learn more about Child Haven International, visit

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


football-100year journey

B.C.’s South Asian pioneer Ranjit Mattu mentored many football stars

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Even as a child, Ranjit Mattu knew he had game. From his first play on the field of Mount Pleasant Elementary,…
Continue Reading »


Dharm Singh Gill changed the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing turbans at work

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Little did Dharm Singh Gill realize that an act of heroism would change the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing their…
Continue Reading »

Jacqui Feldman shows off a recovering Sugar, her 13-year-old poodle that Terra Nova vet Dr. Javaid Chaudhry, rear, helped save after operating to remove a tumour. Feldman, who is battling cancer herself, fell on hard times and couldn’t afford to pay the $3,000-plus for Sugar’s procedure.  Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Richmond veterinarian steps up to save cancer sufferer’s dying dog

ALAN CAMPBELL RICHMOND NEWS Richmond’s Jacqui Feldman, who’s suffering from terminal cancer, is crediting a local veterinarian with saving her life. It was a few weeks ago…
Continue Reading »


A look at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s first cabinet

THE CANADIAN PRESS EDMONTON — A look at Alberta’s NDP cabinet sworn in Sunday: Rachel Notley (Edmonton Strathcona) Premier, minister of intergovernmental affairs. Notley, 51,…
Continue Reading »

Japan-Canada trade talks stalled with no meetings in sight

By Mike Blanchfield THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Trade talks have stalled between Canada and Japan — one of the Harper government’s priority countries for…
Continue Reading »

football-100year journey

B.C.’s South Asian pioneer Ranjit Mattu mentored many football stars

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Even as a child, Ranjit Mattu knew he had game. From his first play on the field of Mount Pleasant Elementary,…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...


Do we need to exercise more or eat less?

JILL BARKER MONTREAL GAZETTE A battle is waging in the scientific journals between several prominent health and fitness experts. In one corner are physicians Aseem Malhotra,…
Continue Reading »

exam scores

Identical twins’ mark sheets almost as identical and the story of a courageous young achiever

HINDUSTAN TIMES AND VANCOUVER DESI They are identical twins and, interestingly, even their mark sheets look almost the same. Ranchi twins Aporupa and Anorupa Chattopadhyay …
Continue Reading »

India-pharma-under scanner

U.S. lawsuit puts generic drug imports from India under scanner

IANS Washington – A U.S. class action lawsuit accusing India’s Ranbaxy of large-scale deception on its generic drug applications puts a question mark on drug…
Continue Reading »

100 year journey

Apart from the overwhelming cold, Sucha Singh Bagri has fond memories of his first few days in B.C.

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Sucha Singh Bagri arrived in Canada with his father Harnam Singh Bagri on Feb 2, 1935, on the Empress of Russia,…
Continue Reading »


Who wants to be a Princess? Beauty pageant contestants undergo rigorous training

VANCOUVER DESI Divas aspiring to become Indian Princesses are undergoing rigorous training before the grand finale of the beauty pageant in Mumbai. Indian princess pageant 2015 ◄…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest

Items of clothing are displayed in room 331 of the Martinez Hotel, where Parisian fashion house Elie Saab provides sartorial services to celebrities attending the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 21, 2015. During the Cannes Film Festival, room 331 is radically transformed into a red carpet emergency room - where celebrities like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman can rush to if they pop out of a dress, or a zipper breaks. Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

‘Nip slips’ and broken zippers: Red carpet Emergency Room for Cannes wardrobe malfunctions always full of drama

THOMAS ADAMSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNES, France – For most of the year, room 331 of the Martinez Hotel is just your run-of-the mill luxury…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai doesn’t leave her daughter alone even for a night

HINDUSTAN TIMES Apart from walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is also screening footage from her upcoming film, Jazbaa. The first…
Continue Reading »


Photos: Aishwarya Rai an absolute stunner at Cannes 2015 (updated)

VANCOUVER DESI Former beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been a Cannes regular for over a decade now. But this year marks her comeback to the…
Continue Reading »