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Laura (Lolly) de Jonge

“Charitable giving is not about how much you make or where you’re working. It’s a consciousness.”

A box of fruit goes a long way. That’s what Laura (Lolly) de Jonge learned twenty years ago, watching her parents hand out oranges to people on the street. As one of the many ways they routinely gave back, their actions instilled philanthropy as a family value for generations to come.

“Charitable giving is not about how much you make or where you’re working. It’s a consciousness.”

Following the 2008 financial crisis, de Jonge saw a sharp rise in donation requests. Overwhelmed by so many people in need, she and her husband Michael decided to set out a strategic approach for giving that involved their whole family.

“At a Sunday dinner we sat down with our kids and asked: ‘As a family, who do we want to give money to?’” says de Jonge. “Each of us had to think about what was personally important, our values, what’s meaningful. It was a lively debate. Through the process, we found agreement around specific topics.”

Education is a priority for de Jonge having personally faced academic hurdles. As a “high school dropout” wanting to enter university later in life, she had to challenge entrance requirements. Perseverance paid off: in 2008, she graduated from Royal Roads with a Master of Arts in Environment and Management.

Although her education was funded by her employer, she recognizes the difficulties. “When speaking with a colleague who had to pay for everything out of pocket, I saw the sacrifice,” says de Jonge. “I realized that by providing financial support, I could help make life easier for someone.”

She and her family put thought into action by establishing the Laura and Michael de Jonge Bursary, an annual award for a student who demonstrates financial need and leadership ability. The 2018 recipient was Master of Science in Environment and Management student Michelle Corsi.

“The award really helped me in terms of recognition and validation of my work,” says Corsi. ““At The Marine Mammal Center, the world’s largest marine mammal teaching hospital, I’mstepping into a bigger leadership role, training people around the world.”

For de Jonge, a letter from Corsi confirmed the power of giving back. “Michelle let us know how her research touches other people’s lives,” she says. “This tells us that the scholarship lets us affect future generations in a special way. And that the decision our family made 10 years ago continues to bear fruit.”