Wilfrid Howick with his wife Nellie AzizThe largest and most impactful humanitarian assistance at the MUHC Atie Waxman December 17, 2022 613 In 1991, in memory of a great humanitarian and through generous donations from the Howick Family, the Cedars Humanitarian Fund was endowed as the Wilfrid Howick Humanitarian Fund. Through this fund, the Cedars Cancer Foundation (Cedars) at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) provides assistance and resources for cancer patients in financial need. “In 1954, Dad and two of his friends, John Lutfy and George Rossy, enlisted the assistance of the Syrian Ladies Aid Society to rally various groups in Montreal and established the Cedars Home for members of the Syrian-Lebanese community.” – Peter Howick Wilfrid Howick was quietly generous in his support of the benevolent fund at his church Since 2018, the Wilfrid Howick Humanitarian Fund has disbursed over $400,000 and counting to 1,720 cancer patients and their families. Cedars CanSupport administers the Fund, which is also supported by individual donations. CanSupport’s professionals act upon the recommendations of an MUHC social worker, who analyses each patient’s needs and helps ensure that those burdened by cancer benefit from assistance for groceries, rent, childcare, housekeeping services, medication, transportation, and utilities amongst other essentials that they might require. The COVID-19 pandemic placed additional hardships on families and, thankfully, the Fund has been able to shoulder the extra needs and get assistance to help those most in need. Cedars is pleased to pay tribute to the special man who inspired his children to continue to endow this fund in his memory and to perpetuate his legacy of giving that has shaped their entire family. Wilfrid: the boy, the family man, businessman, mentor, and friend Wilfrid was born in 1909 into a family of modest means to parents Mary and Louis Howick. Wilfrid met and married Nellie Aziz and soon after they started a family that would grow to include four children — John, Andrew, Suzanne and Peter — each of whom would be instilled with a set of values meant to help them be good human beings. Wilfrid may have been a man of few words, as Andrew tells it, but his actions spoke volumes to how people should live their lives. “In 1954, Dad and two of his friends, John Lutfy and George Rossy, enlisted the assistance of the Syrian Ladies Aid Society to rally various groups in Montreal and established the Cedars Home for members of the Syrian-Lebanese community,” shared Peter. The Cedars Home for the Elderly is now a community-oriented intermediate and long-term care facility that continues to enjoy a stellar reputation. “Dad jumped into things with both feet, giving money regularly to the church to support a benevolent fund that the Pastor could use to send flowers to someone who needed cheering up or groceries to a family,” added Andrew. “My Dad believed that everyone was equal, Pope, King or pauper,” said Suzie to which her husband Raymond Batrie added: “Wilfrid always had an ear. He was a tremendous mentor to a lot of people.” Andrew added: “If Dad got word that somebody’s widow needed a hand or another manufacturer was in trouble, he would be right there, offering support, just like he offered us his advice.” The friendship that started it all, from desk drawer to endowed fund One of Wilfrid’s friends was Dr. Edward Tabah, a renowned surgical oncologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC. Dr. Tabah was keen to get Wilfrid to invest in research and treatment. However, Wilfrid was less than enthusiastic, though he did believe in supportive and palliative care. He was in the habit of giving small sums of money to Dr. Tabah’s medical secretary to put in her desk drawer. In this way, when it was too cold and a patient needed to take a taxi home or another patient could use a nice dinner, there would be a few dollars readily available. He also eventually joined Dr. Tabah and the Chamandy family in the first campaign to create what evolved into the Cedars Cancer Foundation. “If Dad got word that somebody’s widow needed a hand or another manufacturer was in trouble, he would be right there, offering support, just like he offered us his advice.” – Andrew Howick Following Wilfrid’s death in 1990, Dr. Tabah visited his wife and children and made a few suggestions on how to honour his memory. Humanitarian assistance resonated as being closest to the man whose “contributions to the clothing and textile industry and he supported many charitable, religious and scientific endeavours in and beyond his community,” were recognized in 1978 when he was invested into the Order of Canada. The Fund was initially endowed with an investment of $100,000 and it continues to grow to this day. Thanks to a new leadership gift from the Howick family, it reached the $1-million endowment milestone in 2019-2020. Please visit us at cedars.ca to see how you can get involved and make a difference. Related
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