Volunteering to interview organizations in need of funding, back in her younger days, serves as a small reminder for Dr. Betty Kennedy of why she continues to give to the United Way Greater Victoria.
“I realized there were a lot, even then, that I hadn’t heard of,” says the Oak Bay woman. “There are things I donate to that I know about and love, like the symphony and Royal BC Museum, but there are all sorts of other organizations out there to help people that I don’t know about.”
For those other organizations, the ones she doesn’t know about, she trusts the United Way Greater Victoria to know where to divest funds.
“I say area of greatest need,” she said, confident UWGV has the expertise needed.
The umbrella charity recently recognized Kennedy, 93, as a United Way Red Feather Donor to celebrate her 50-plus years of dedication to the community.
“Betty is a valued and dedicated patron who shares our vision to improve life for thousands of local citizens,” said Patricia Jelinski, CEO at United Way Greater Victoria. “Her generosity helps enable United Way to fund hundreds of community programs benefitting those most in need in Greater Victoria.”
Kennedy gives back for a “mish mash of reasons” that includes simply the way she – and husband Gilbert Kennedy – were raised. “There are a lot of people out there doing a lot of good things,” she said. “An awful lot of people spend money on things I just don’t spend money on.”
Kennedy was born in Victoria, raised in Burnaby, and grew up with a strong moral code grounded in education, close family ties, and a commitment to give. When you don’t find her gardening at their Galiano Island home, she hangs out at here in Oak Bay, a stone’s throw from the shore.
Kennedy completed her BA in mathematics with honours from the University of British Columbia and began teaching as a lecturer the following year. It was there she met Gilbert. He completed a doctorate of law at Harvard University in 1956 and the couple returned to Victoria 1957. Kennedy started at UVic and stayed for 22 years. Gilbert served as BC Deputy Attorney General from 1957 to 1972, remaining in the department to 1982.
The couple adopted three children, and the two surviving daughters have proffered two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren for her to enjoy.
The Royal BC Museum is among her other longtime commitments, having served as a volunteer and board chair. She’s also served as committee chair for UVic’s Finnerty Gardens.
Kennedy also chaired the Canadian Junior Mathematic Competition for BC, was a founding secretary for the BC College and University Program in Mathematics, and chaired the Canadian Mathematic Olympiad. Additionally, she’s held many positions with Girl Guides of Canada, earning their Medal of Merit, and volunteered with the United Way’s community chest and allocations committee.
“The joy is in the learning, the doors that open, the people you meet who care and want to do things that are worthwhile,” she said. “If you believe in something, you should do something about it.”