Bhaloo Family - BGCBigs Children's Circle

The Bhaloo Family

Several years ago, I read in Avenue Magazine of a colleague who had started an endowment family fund with the Edmonton Community Foundation. What struck me most though was that she wasn’t a millionaire – she was a dedicated community service worker in Edmonton who worked in the nonprofit sector – similar to me. I dug a bit deeper and found that while the minimum amount to start a fund is $10 000, you didn’t need that right off the bat to start the process. You could develop a plan to raise that much within the next 10 years. And I was like – WOAH! I CAN DO THIS!

You don’t need to be retired. You don’t need to be a millionaire.

You can be a millennial. You just need a plan. And you can make it happen. The staff at ECF is there to make it so – Danisha Bhaloo

Before I talk about how easy this was, let me just share why I was even thinking about doing this in the first place. While I love the agency that I work for, my motivation to give back in this way goes beyond my job. I was a Little Sister who grew up in this agency. I lived in poverty, with a formidable single mother who raised my sister and me but I had many struggles as a child. I was bullied. I had low self-esteem. I had low self-confidence. I was at risk of failing school. My family lived in poverty with my mom working three jobs at any given time to put a roof over our heads and food on our table. And my dad unexpectedly had a heart attack and passed away – he was 40 years old. I was 12.

But my mom also had the amazing foresight to enroll my sister and me with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton. Because of that agency, I was matched with a great Big Sister who I still keep in touch with today. She believed in me, in my abilities to make a difference – and I have to say, my self-confidence raised exponentially. To have someone care about you in that way, who showed up every week despite me pushing boundaries because I had a loss in my life, and I was afraid they would leave me, can’t be expressed in words.

The agency also supported my public speaking skills, the development of my skills and provided me with a scholarship through their corporate partner to get my degree in Criminology. Fast forward 25 years, I am now working for the agency that supported my family and me growing up. It’s my dream job.

My story isn’t unique. I see every day the challenges thousands of children and youth face that were similar, and sometimes worse, than mine. So while I love my job, I needed to do more.

Edmonton Community Foundation provided me with the platform to do just that. When I turned 30 years old, my mom and I walked into the ECF office and said that we wanted to do….something. Together with their support, we started an “emerging fund” with the idea that we would donate a small amount every month for the next 10 years and then once we reached our initial $10 000 goal, that money would go back to BGCBigs – FOREVER (and EVER).

Six years later, I am now 36 years old. Two weeks ago, right after my birthday, I got a letter from the Edmonton Community Foundation in the mail saying I had surpassed my initial goal of $10 000! I couldn’t believe it!

How did I do this? Well, in addition to the automatic payments from my bank account every month into my fund, for my past birthdays and special occasions, I asked friends and families to contribute to the fund instead of gifts, and my husband whose company matched his donations every year would direct his gifts to the fund.

And today, my fund is over $10 000 and no longer emerging. It’s real. Interest will go out every year to support my community. And this will continue to happen FOREVER, long after I’m gone. And will support future generations. That’s what matters.

You don’t need to be retired. You don’t need to be a millionaire.

You can be a millennial. You just need a plan. And you can make it happen. The staff at ECF is there to make it so.

Learn more about the BGCBigs Children’s Circle — A Legacy Program

Danisha Bhaloo
Former Little Sister
Manager of Development & Communications with Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton

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