Expatriate Donors Remember Community

by Drew Unger | Dec 14, 2020

A large and unexpected donation to the Simkin Centre will be used for years to come.

In late 2019, Laurie Cerqueti, CEO of the Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre, received the kind of call that most organizations dream of receiving. A lawyer phoned her saying a cheque for $725,937 was “coming the Centre’s way.” The bequest is from the Estate of Myer and Corrine Geller, a San Diego couple with no apparent connection to Winnipeg, other than the fact that Myer grew up in the city, though he left town decades ago. “It seemed too good to be true,” says Cerqueti, who didn’t think the gift was real until she received the cheque this past September. 

While it’s still somewhat of a mystery as to why the Geller’s left such a large gift to the Centre – the theory is that Myer’s mom was a resident of the Sharon Home. However, there was no uncertainty as to how those dollars would get used. About 30% of the funds went towards immediate needs, such as maintenance and repair, while the remainder was utilized to establish a fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba earmarked for future building repair needs. The fund is known as The Saul & Clairbel Simkin Centre Building Reserve Fund.

Working with the Foundation to grow those dollars was an obvious choice. It already manages the Simkin Centre’s endowment fund, and the Foundation has a solid track record of generating strong returns. “We have a great relationship with them, and they’re very supportive of us,” says Cerqueti about the Foundation. “It made sense to have them involved.” 

For now, the fund will remain untouched to provide it with the opportunity to grow – Cerqueti says that other people have expressed interest in donating to it through the Simkin Centre Foundation. It’s a relief knowing that the dollars are there in case they need it. “The cheque couldn’t have come at a better time,” she says. “It’s very exciting.”