Threads of Fate 

by Andrew McCutcheon

This is a special story. 

It’s about two people — Wally and Larysa — who are connected. By what, I can’t exactly say. 

Call it whatever you want: coincidence, fate, happenstance. But Wally and Larysa have a connection drawn between the two of them like an errant piece of thread, despite the fact the two have not — and will never — meet. 

Let’s start with Wally. 

Charles Wallace Drew — who preferred to go by Wally — was born May 11, 1926. He lived a storied life. 

Wally served in the U.S. army from 1944 to 1946. He worked as a photo-geologist at Sproule Engineering here in Calgary until he retired in 1991. 

By all accounts, Wally loved hiking and being outdoors. In one of the few photos we have of Wally, he’s walking towards the camera — hiking backpack and sunhat on, walking stick at his side — with a literal bear in the distance trailing not too far in the background behind him. 

And by all knowledge we have of Wally, he was very generous, especially with his time. He worked as a “Grandfather Reader” for kids at both Hillhurst and Sunnyside Schools. 

Now let’s talk about Larysa. 

We’re only using her first name to protect her identity and so we will include less identifying facts about her. But we can say that Larysa is from Ukraine. 

She was 74-years-old when she came to Canada to visit family. She was abused by her family members here. By her description, it is a story too awful to tell. 

With the outbreak of war overseas, it wasn’t safe for her to return and it was not safe for her to stay with family. With very little to call her own, she was stranded in a new country. 

The Unison Shelter at Kerby Centre took her in and gave her a safe refuge. She was connected with resources to help her establish a new life in Canada. This was in 2022.  

She would have never had the chance to meet Wally. Wally was a Kerby Centre member from 1992 until 2014. And he passed away in 2020, well before Larysa ever touched down in Canada. 

It isn’t just the fact they both have an association with Kerby Centre that connects them. It’s something far deeper than that. 

It’s because when Wally passed away, he left a legacy gift to the Centre. A gift of $3.1 million — the largest to date that we’ve received in this manner. 

The legacy gifts we receive go directly to supporting our services — services like our elder abuse shelter that gave refuge to Larysa and so many more. 

In this way, Wally doesn’t have a single thread that binds him to just one another person. By leaving this gift, Wally left behind dozens — hundreds even — of threads: threads of fate that will persist long after his passing, stretching far into the future as his legacy helps us, help others. Every person Kerby Centre keeps safe, fed or cared for will have a connection to Wally’s legacy. 

You can talk to your financial advisor, lawyer or finance professional about the details and benefits — including tax benefits — of leaving behind a legacy gift; ensuring that the thread of your legacy will persist long after your passing. 

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