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.

MATTHEW PEARSON
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 www.childhaven.ca.

mpearson@ottawacitizen.com
twitter.com/mpearson78


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





Featured

dog-rock-tar

Video: Rescue story of a dog that fell into hot tar and turned into a rock

VANCOUVER DESI A team of animal rescuers in Western India spent two days working to free a helpless dog trapped in a pile of hot…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-crime

Surrey Sikh temple hit-and-run still a mystery after two years

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — Surrey Mounties believe somebody must have seen something that can help investigators solve a hit-and-run crash that happened two…
Continue Reading »

Pakistan

Kids sweatshirts made in Pakistan and sold at Kroger, Fred Meyer stores in the U.S. recalled for choking hazard

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — Nearly 8,000 children’s hoodies are being recalled because of a possible choking risk. No injuries have been reported, but…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Health Canada bans some drug imports from India; cites quality concerns

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Health Canada says it is banning imports of some medications and drug ingredients produced in India due to concerns about…
Continue Reading »

The cost of not controlling Ebola in Africa? Cases elsewhere, experts warn

By Helen Branswell THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — The revelation that a man with Ebola was diagnosed in a Texas hospital could be seen as…
Continue Reading »

Health Canada bans some drug imports from India; cites quality concerns

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Health Canada says it is banning imports of some medications and drug ingredients produced in India due to concerns about…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

body image-beauty-weight-control

Self-compassion leads to positive body image in women

IANS Toronto – Women who accept and tolerate their bodily imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their high body mass index…
Continue Reading »

British comedian John Oliver takes aim at Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's U.S. visit on his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. YouTube/Screengrab.

British comedian John Oliver again covers Indian politics in HBO show, takes aim at Modi’s U.S. visit (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI British comedian John Oliver has covered Indian politics yet again on his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In this…
Continue Reading »

1INDIA_INTERNATIONAL_KITE_FESTIVAL_213745704

Last remaining family member of Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh dies in Toronto

IANS Chandigarh — The younger sister and last remaining blood relative of revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh has died in Canada, according to relatives in…
Continue Reading »

Komagata Maru

India honours 100-year anniversary of Komagata Maru with commemorative coins

IANS New Delhi — India on Monday released a set of special coins as part of a year-long centenary commemoration of the 1914 Komagata Maru…
Continue Reading »

Sandy Sidhu main.jpg

Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to appear in film at VIFF, but the actress is still waiting for her big break

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI It took years for Nanaimo’s Sandy Sidhu to admit that she was an aspiring actress. Enrolled at UBC for cell biology…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Shah Rukh Khan Deepika Padukone Bollywood sex

Shah Rukh Khan: My films are never male-oriented (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Shah Rukh Khan may be a name big enough to make a film a blockbuster on his own, but he says that his…
Continue Reading »

Sonam Kapoor

Gallery: 10 celebs who did not let diabetes rule their lives

VANCOUVER DESI Did you know Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor has been living with Diabetes from her teen years? And her Pakistani co-star in Khoobsurat — Fawad…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Indian court blocks 72 websites from streaming Bollywood movie ‘Bang Bang’

IANS New Delhi – The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed various internet and telecom service providers to block access to 72 websites hosting the yet-to-be…
Continue Reading »