Personal Story - Eleanor Bannister’s Story

Recently I was asked about the events that inspired me to become a healthcare donor. What motivated me to make that first gift, to take the first step? 

Like so many people it all began when someone I loved was sick. My first husband, Gord Shantz, was my high school sweetheart and the father of my three wonderful children. In 1992 he died at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) from complications related to diabetes, surrounded by his family.

At the time of his death he had lost both legs. Our family had gone through a lot together and the hospital had played a significant role in our lives. I remember thinking, “Boy, we’d better give to this place.”
After Gord died I began giving annually. At the time it wasn’t a lot because I didn’t have a lot to give. I was grateful for the compassionate care he had received and I had developed a deeper appreciation for the many things our hospitals need that the government doesn’t fund. Like many healthcare donors, my primary motivation was to give back.
In 1997, when I married my second husband, John, I was pleased to know that he was also a healthcare supporter. When a University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) staff member came to visit our home one day, it didn’t surprise me that John wanted to commit to a leadership gift.
Feeling energized and inspired by John’s generosity I decided to take another, much bigger, step forward and match his donation. An outright gift wasn’t feasible so I decided to do it in my Will. 
By becoming a member of the Evergreen Society—joining that group of donors who have made a legacy gift to our hospitals—I was thinking less about the past and more about the future. The impulse to give back had paved the way for a deeper call to pay it forward.
A legacy gift is a deeply personal choice. Like many people I have several priorities. I support other charities and I have a close, loving family to whom I want to leave something: children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 
But I cherish my community, too. And I have high aspirations for what healthcare can be when people give as they are able, growing their giving year by year, expanding what is possible, not as individuals, but as friends and neighbours rallied around a common cause.
It is easy for me to embrace the idea that the lives my legacy gift will save won’t be my own. Between my first gift and my last I want our healthcare providers, whose day-to-day lives are often ruled by hard choices, to know that there is a generous community that also believes in their biggest dreams for the future.
Our hospitals can offer us the care available today because thousands of people have given gifts over many years. Where would we be today without those loyal donors who chose legacy giving as a way of building on a lifetime of giving?
I feel like my legacy gift deepens my footprints in our community. It seems to me that planned gifts, such as Wills and bequests, are instruments of hope, advancing our hospitals toward the next big goal.
This is a time of unprecedented teamwork in this community: our hospitals are working together like never before. As donors we came together to build the Providence Care Hospital which shows us what a 21st century hospital can and should be. It has given us a vision of transformed healthcare worth striving for.
Today, the next step in the journey to achieving better health for our community is building a much-needed patient tower at Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) KGH site and a new long-term care home for Providence Care’s Providence Manor. 
Maybe your support for healthcare is motivated by a deep desire to reinforce lifelong values, or to offset estate taxes. Perhaps you give for both reasons. Wherever you find yourself on the philanthropic journey, though, I do hope you will join me in taking another step and consider a legacy gift to UHKF.
If, like me, you have already made the decision to leave a legacy gift in support of health care in Kingston, let the UHKF staff know so they can thank you and so that others may be energized and inspired by your generosity.
Imagine what your planned gift will mean to this community. Let people see your name on the Evergreen Tree and think; “Yes, that is a step worth taking!”

Learn more about Legacy Giving here.