Jean Minerva Campbell was a vibrant young wife, mother and healthcare professional, enjoying life to the max.
“Jeannie had a wonderful personality – very social, very outgoing, very lovable,” recalls her best friend and sister-in-law, Peggie Stevens. “We trained together as X-Ray technicians and we were always close.”
Then disaster struck. In 1974, a tragic railway accident at Wabamun Lake took Jeannie’s life and the lives of her two young sons. She was just 35 years old. Her husband Gary Campbell, her surviving son Bill and Peggie were grief-stricken.
But out of that grief, something wonderful happened.
“We searched our minds as to what kind of tribute we could make to Jeannie, and since she was so involved in so many community activities, it seemed appropriate to carry on her efforts,” says Gary, a retired Edmonton businessman and lawyer.
Thus, in 1977, the Minerva Foundation – dedicated to enriching the community and assisting individuals and families in need – was
formed by a number of couples from Edmonton and Calgary. As the region’s economy and the population grew, so did Minerva’s activities.
The foundation organized annual fundraising dinners that attracted hundreds of people. Minerva also joined forces with George Montegu (Monte) Black (elder brother of Conrad Black) and others from the Canadian Liver Foundation to sponsor the popular Liver League NHL Hockey Draft each spring.
Over the years, Minerva’s successful fundraising efforts generated well over $15 million for dozens of nonprofit organizations including CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health.
“I got involved with CASA a long time ago, as Honourary Chair of the CASA Foundation,” says Peggie. “Traditionally children’s mental health had been swept underneath the carpet, but kids are our future, so it became a passion for me.”
Now, 43 years after its birth, Minerva’s Board of Directors is winding up the foundation and disbursing all remaining funds, including
a $50,000 gift to the CASA Foundation. The cheque was recently presented to CASA and CASA Foundation CEO Dr. Denise Milne and CASA Foundation Executive Director Nadine Samycia.
“We’re so grateful to receive this support from Minerva at the end of their foundation’s life. To be seen as one of the charities that are worthy of their support is a huge honour for CASA,” says Samycia. “The amazing support they’ve given to CASA and so many charities in our city is a lasting legacy.”
“Our Board evaluated about 45 final proposals and decided that CASA was among the worthy organizations it wanted to support with this final gift,” explains Bill.
As for the wind-up of the Minerva Foundation, the co-founders say it’s a reflection of the challenging times Albertans are now enduring.
For her part, Peggie takes a philosophical view. “Everything has its time. But it was wonderful that it happened. It was a great thing for the province of Alberta.”