Leaving a legacy
In 1953, Gwen Steiman was tilling the soil on her family farm. She was 14-years-old, tending the crops that would feed her family during harvest. After dinner, she would wash the dishes. And at dawn, she would make her brothers’ beds. Hard working and caring, Gwen felt her calling was nursing. So, after graduating from high school, she left her small village of Erickson, Manitoba, and moved to Winnipeg.
“I’ve always thought about working with people and caring for them no matter who they are,” says Gwen. “That’s a skill you need in a nursing environment, because it doesn’t matter who you’re treating: we’re all just people. We all need help. That’s why I really like working and volunteering in every aspect of health care.”
Eight years later, when Gwen was expecting her first child, she left her senior nursing position at the Children’s Hospital. Maternity leave didn’t yet exist, and going back to working nights while raising a family wasn’t ideal. So rather than return to her job, as a young mother Gwen turned to volunteering instead, generously giving her time and enthusiasm to several charities.
From preschool boards to diabetes galas, heart charities to the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, Gwen saw a need everywhere she went.
“It made me think, ‘There’s so much to do and so much to be done.’ Volunteering became a passion. It’s grown from simply being involved with different health organizations, to becoming a passionate advocate for their causes.”
Gwen volunteered on the HSC Foundation Board of Directors for two years, raising funds to build the 7th floor of HSC’s Thorlakson Building — a dedicated research space still buzzing today with top researchers discovering new medicines, treatments, and technologies that help patients.
After retiring from the Board, Gwen’s outstanding and tireless passion to making Manitoba a better place earned her a special invitation to join the HSC Foundation’s Honourary Directors. The Honourary Directors are an eminent and dedicated group of volunteers comprising past Board members and major supporters of the Foundation who deeply understand the role research plays in health care.
To continue supporting the research community she helped foster, Gwen decided to name the HSC Foundation as a beneficiary in her Will. By expressing her intentions, Gwen became a member of the Bannatyne Legacy Circle — a special group of visionary supporters who have chosen to make a lasting contribution to the future of Manitoba’s health care. She knows that her endowed gift will generate income for the Foundation for all time, and she hopes it will inspire others to contribute as well.
“We have our five grandkids living in Winnipeg,” says Gwen. “I hope my grandchildren will see the effects of what leaving a legacy can mean. I also want to encourage them to contribute to charities: to show them that this is what Grandma and Grandpa are doing.”
Gwen’s children are already leading the way. Her son, his wife, and their two young children all regularly donate to their charities of choice. As do her two married daughters and their respective families.
“We’re all very fortunate in my family, and we have a responsibility to give back to our communities,” says Gwen.
Watch Gwen’s story below, and why she’s chosen to leave a legacy with the HSC Foundation.