The right thing to do

Donna and Doug Brousseau recently updated their wills to include gifts to Perley Health Foundation. 

“It’s the right thing to do,” Donna says simply.

The two share a strong affection for both Veterans and Perley Health. Donna’s father Nicolas served in the Second World War and participated in the liberation of the Netherlands. Doug’s uncle Wilf Brousseau was a member of First Special Service Force, popularly known as the Devil’s Brigade: elite commandos who executed daring missions behind enemy lines. Several other members of their families also served in the war; Doug’s uncle Charlie died when Nazi submarines attacked his convoy. And his uncle Benny lived out his final days at Perley Health. 

“He received exceptional care,” says Doug. “Everyone in my family recognized and appreciated that.”

Doug Brousseau grew up not far from where Perley Health was later built and first met Donna as a teenager. They raised two children and will soon celebrate 50 years of marriage. 

After attending St. Patrick’s College, then part of Carleton University, Doug began a successful career in municipal government. He started with Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton (RMOC), a tier of government established in 1968 and dissolved under amalgamation in 2000. Doug eventually rose to deputy commissioner of transportation, then served as senior policy advisor to Bob Chiarelli, the first mayor of the newly amalgamated City of Ottawa. Donna also had a long successful career with RMOC.

While working at RMOC, Doug first became aware of the challenges facing the long-term care of Veterans.

“I remember attending a meeting at the former Perley Hospital, where many Veterans of the Second World War received occupational therapy and long-term care,” he recalls. “We had a tour of the old hospital and while I was impressed by the heroic efforts of staff, I was shocked by the conditions. I believed — and still believe — that our Veterans and other older Canadians deserve the best possible care in the best possible facilities.”

In the 1990s, a project began to take shape to meet the changing needs of Veterans and Seniors. Contributions from federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with private and corporate donors, funded the construction of a purpose-built facility amalgamating the Perley Hospital, the Rideau Veterans Home and the Veterans Wing of the National Defence Medical Centre. And while neither Doug nor Donna had a direct role in the creation of Perley Health, both strongly supported the project.

“The fact that so many different groups came together reflects the importance of the project,” says Donna. 

Thanks largely to the financial support of Veterans’ Affairs Canada, which offsets the costs of Veterans’ long-term care, along with the more than $40 million provided by generous Foundation donors, Perley Health has evolved continually over the last 25 years to keep pace with the changes in the community it serves. Over the years, opened a Guest House to provide respite care to people living with dementia, for instance, and 139 independent-living apartments for Veterans and Seniors. In 2019, it created the Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care to conduct and share the research needed to improve the care of older Canadians and Veterans living with frailty.

When Doug retired, a work colleague — Merv Beckstead, former CEO of RMOC — invited him to join the Perley Health Foundation’s Board of Directors. 

“It’s been an honour to serve on the Board the last nine years,” says Doug. “Perley Health and the Foundation have really matured since then. Caring for Veterans and the support it attracts enables Perley Health to improve the care of not only Veterans, but also the ordinary civilians who helped make Canada what it is today.”

Donna and Doug now have five grandchildren, including one who volunteered at Perley Health as a cadet.

“While taking care of family is of primary importance to us, we also want to support causes we believe in,” says Donna. “And Perley Health is at the top of our list.”

“Like the many Canadians lucky enough to own a home, rising property values have significantly increased the value of our estates,” says Doug. “We think it’s appropriate to share this good fortune and we encourage others to do the same.”

“A gift-in-will to Perley Health Foundation is about paying it forward,” says Donna. “We’re proud to be able to do our part.”

By Peter McKinnon

To learn more about making a gift in your will, click here.