Patrice Yamada and Peri Venkatesh have spent their lives caring for our community as nurses, teachers, and committed volunteers. To ensure this support will continue forever, they’ve established a Community Building Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation and included a legacy gift in their estate plans.
“Community is all about just living your life every day, trying to make a decent living, being hopeful about the future. Community is just so special to each one of us. And if you can make your community better, then isn’t that what we’re all here for?” Ms. Yamada asks.
“Just like people have said, it takes a village to nurture a child. It takes a good community to make good citizens,” Mr. Venkatesh says.
The couple met at St. Boniface Hospital when Peri worked a few nursing shifts in the unit where Patrice was Head Nurse. They started dating a few years later, and were married in 1984. While Patrice worked mainly in hospitals on both the frontlines and in administration, Peri spent many years teaching nursing at the University of Manitoba.
Both Peri and Patrice’s families fostered a culture of generosity and philanthropy. The seventh of nine children, Mr. Venkatesh was born in India and moved to Canada in 1971. Growing up in India, he fondly remembers his mother’s generosity.
“Some of my friends… were less fortunate. I watched my mother pay for their school fees many times and of course have them over for food,” Mr. Venkatesh says. “Watching her I thought, ‘It is important to do that sort of thing.’ And I’m now I’m committed to doing what I can to help.”
Ms. Yamada was the youngest of three children born to Japanese parents who were relocated from British Columbia during the Second World War internment. She grew up in Winnipeg’s St. Vital neighbourhood.
“We’re all die-hard Manitobans – my parents, they worked really hard because they came from something and ended up with nothing,” Ms. Yamada says.
“Whether it was vegetables or time or whatever we had, we wanted to share. My parents were very, very adamant about that.”
Patrice volunteers with Frontier College at Winnipeg Adult Education’s offsite location Kaakiyow li moond likol, and at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, amongst others.
Peri sits on the Board of Misericordia Health Centre, in addition to having volunteered with Winnipeg Harvest, the University of Manitoba Alumni Board, and many others. He has also devoted many years to promoting men’s health in the community.
Not only is volunteering a way to be a role model, it also allows you to learn about your community and better yourself.
“If you don’t have any interaction or a relationship with people, how can you develop any understanding of their life or their culture?” Patrice asks.
“You have to go outside your regular friendship group or your work group to feel that pain, sorrow, joy. That was a challenge for me because I lived a very protected life – a very middle class, kind of a white life, but I’m not that person inside. I really made it my challenge in my retirement to… feel more fulfilled and [be] a citizen of the world. Winnipeg is a fascinating city, we’re good, bad and indifferent. I chose to make an effort to change that indifference into something positive.”
The couple was redoing their Will and considering their legacy when a lawyer told them about The Winnipeg Foundation. After researching The Foundation and its support for our community, the couple found it aligned with their beliefs.
“A donation made is a gift to the future of our planet, our world, our community. It was important for us to designate a foundation… that would really carry forward our ideas about how we live and the hope for the future,” Patrice says.
The couple decided to establish a fund at The Foundation. The Patrice Yamada and Peri Venkatesh Fund is a Community Building Fund that supports our city’s changing needs and emerging opportunities.
They have also supported the Nourishing Potential Fund, which helps children and youth access healthy food and nutrition education, and included a gift in their estate plans, making them members of The Foundation’s Legacy Circle.
“The whole idea of legacy was to sort of pay it forward and prepare so that our gifts of caring and compassion would carry on after we’re gone. We may not be remembered for who we are as humans, but that financial gift will plant a seed and that seed will make our community better,” Patrice says.