The memory of Ben Pingol, left, lives on through the endowment fund set up by his son Vinz and daughter-in-law Candice. Photo courtesy of the Pingol family

Keep the legacy alive

By 
  • November 7, 2015

TORONTO - A decade after his death, family man Esteban “Ben” Pingol’s legacy lives on through the Legacy Society of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Legacy societies are created by charitable organizations to thank donors who have supported the health and growth of a charity, either through a financial gift left in a will, as a gift of insurance or, in Pingol’s case, an endowment.

In association with ShareLife — the Archdiocese of Toronto’s charitable fundraising arm that supports more than 40 charities and grant recipients — Pingol’s son and daughter-in-law, Vinz and Candice Pingol, opened the Ben Pingol Endowment Fund 10 years ago to honour the family’s patriarch.

Ben Pingol died from cancer, leaving his wife, sons, siblings and their families with memories of a happy and generous husband, father and uncle. To keep his memory alive for generations to come, the fund was specifically created “to support underprivileged families in providing food and resources and to support unmarried pregnant women to make the choice for life,” said Vinz.

Both he and his wife already supported charities under the ShareLife umbrella and the fund’s goal was influenced by their personal experiences and beliefs. For example, their decision to support underprivileged families stemmed partially from Candice’s experience as a social worker and child youth worker with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.

“We want to be able to support those women who make the choice for life, to say ‘we’re here with you to help you even though it was a difficult decision to keep your baby,’ ” Vinz added.

More than $18,000 has been raised since the fund opened.

The Pingols have plans to expand the fund so it can support ministries that serve women who have experienced abortion, as well as more families in need.
Vinz and Candice opened the fund with a lump sum, recruiting family and friends over the years to donate. For his birthday or other times when he would receive gifts, Vinz will ask that a donation be made to the fund in lieu of a gift to himself.

“A lot of it is word of mouth. My mother (Lourdes Pingol) survived my dad, so to honour him she promotes this amongst her friends, especially around the giving season of Christmas,” Vinz said.

“My father-in-law is really known for — and this goes across the family — his generosity, his smile, his compassion, his integrity. And when we say that we have a Ben Pingol Endowment Fund, the family comes together to really support that in his name because really it feels like they want to honour him and honour his legacy,” said Candice. “We really felt that his passing was so sudden and this is a way for him to live on.”

Ben Pingol emigrated from the Philippines to Canada in the 1970s “with basically nothing,” said his son. By trade, he was a teacher, but did not arrive in Canada in time to claim a teaching position he was intended to fill. But he worked his way up the ladder at a pharmaceutical company for 35 years, eventually becoming senior scientist in toxicology.

“I’m the third of four sons,” said Vinz. “And as much as he was there and he spent time with us and was always around teaching us and helping us to be good men, he really was generous with his time… and showed other cousins and family members the same love and compassion as he showed us.”

Ben Pingol now has 10 grandchildren; five of them call Candice and Vinz mom and dad.

For those interested in setting up a similar endowment fund, Vinz’s advice is simple: “Go for it.”

“When people have a large sum of money, for instance, and want to do something with it, if you don’t know how to go about it, ShareLife has made it so easy to set up an endowment fund,” said Candice.

And the Legacy Society celebrates their connection to ShareLife.

“Many charities have a legacy society as a special way to say thank you to people who have included the charity in their will or estate plan. Normally what these societies do is they help the person to have a closer relationship to the charity, to really know what’s going on. They have special events. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to really feel connected to the charity in a special way,” said Quentin Schesnuik, the archdiocese’s manager of planned giving and personal gifts.

If an individual is interested in a legacy society, Schesnuik said “what they may want to do is contact the charity of their choice to see if they have a legacy society. And if they do, and they have included the charity within their estate plan, then if they so choose they can make mention of that to the charity. That way they can begin journeying together on that special relationship that legacy societies provide.”

Those who want to donate to the Ben Pingol Endowment Fund can do so by contacting Vinz Pingol by e-mail at vinz@thinkdoc.com, call (416) 806-7966, or contact ShareLife at sharelife@archtoronto.org or (416) 934-3411.

(Remy is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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