Val Sarah was born in 1940 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England during the early months of World War 2. Her father’s employer, mindful of the potential for this industrial city to be the target of bombing raids, urged his employees to evacuate their families to safety.
Now in her eighties, Val recognises the courage it must have taken for her mother to travel unaided with a 3-year-old son and 5-month-old baby daughter on a Polish ship zigzagging its way across the Atlantic in a blacked-out convoy to avoid the dreaded U-Boats, en route to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The challenge continued as they crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and lastly journeyed by ferry to Vancouver Island, to shelter with hitherto unknown elderly relatives on the paternal side of the family.
“The war will be over by Christmas”, they all said. Only it wasn’t.
As the months wore on, Phyllis had to work, and the children were put into foster care. The Red Cross found a family for Val. Victor was the Customs Officer in Victoria harbour, Anna was a tiny, feisty, loving mother of two sons and one daughter. She wanted a companion for her daughter Judy.
Such was the bond, that, long after War’s end, the two families kept in touch. “There was no way that I could repay that family for their generosity in giving me such a secure and happy start in life”, says Val, but an opportunity would arise to support foster families locally, In lieu.
From 1989 to 2004, Val worked as Community Liaison for Child and Family Services (cafs), and it was there that she had an opportunity to observe the very high quality of their Foster Care Program.
Between 2004 and 2008, Val was privileged to serve on the Board of The Ballarat Foundation, chairing the PR and Marketing Committee which was responsible for establishing the website and new branding, and initiating action on the Foundation archive.
During her term on the Board, so impressed was she by the ease and effective manner in which funds could be donated to needy recipients, that she donated the sum of $10,000 to establish the Val Sarah (Sub-)Fund, designated to support the Regional Foster Care program run by cafs.
The nature of that support has been determined by the Staff of the Program, and has customarily been used to ‘top up’ Christmas events for natural and foster children in the Foster Care Program. As the donor, Val is kept in the loop, receiving reports post-event, and photographs carefully taken to avoid identification of those in foster care. As a process involving the Donor, Recipient and Foundation, Val recommends it as being carried out with the minimum of fuss, but respectfully.
The benefits of “GIVING WHILE LIVING” are simple but significant. “As the years go by”, Val says, “you develop a greater understanding of the community you are supporting – building a binding relationship. There is joy in that connection!”