Caring for the Future

Peggy Bereza loves to grow and tend to things – including friendships, her garden and causes she cares about.

The impulse to nurture comes naturally to this Victoria-based massage therapist. In life, as in her garden, she challenges herself to “plant seeds, grow something and give it away.”

A constant supporter of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, she has grown from an annual and a monthly donor to a legacy donor who has left a gift in her will.

The “seed” that started it all? A baby named Ben.

In 1987, Peggy’s high school friend Jill went into early labour. She was airlifted from Haida Gwaii (the former Queen Charlotte Islands) to Grace Hospital, now BC Women’s Hospital. Her baby, Ben, was born at just 24 weeks.

Jill stayed in Peggy’s Vancouver home to remain close to Ben, who had been transferred to BC Children’s. Weighing a mere 760 grams, the premature infant wasn’t expected to make it past his first day. Yet, against all odds, he survived, and gradually thrived. Slowly, Ben grew stronger. Four months later, he weighed a healthy three kilograms, or almost seven pounds, and he was able to leave BC Children’s and settle in at home.

During this ordeal, Peggy developed a close bond with Jill and her son. After the pair returned to the islands, Peggy and her husband visited Ben as often as they could. They proudly watched him grow into an energetic and gifted student.

After high school, Ben pursued nursing so that he could help others. He earned a full scholarship to the Hawaii Pacific University, graduating magna cum laude. He took his first job in Haida Gwaii, caring for patients in an 18-bed hospital. The baby who began life in a critical care ward had come full circle.

In many ways, Ben is like the seeds Peggy nurtures, and whose fruits and flowers delight those around them. She is inspired by the ripple effect that Ben’s survival has on others. “How many people has Ben helped?” she asks. “And how many lives will he enrich?”

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