The next round of granting for The Charis Foundation will take place early in 2016. The deadline for receiving grant applications is January 15, 2016. Please see the Apply section of our website for completing your funding request.
The Charis Foundation is moving to new office space. As of April 1, 2015 our new address will be:
4 - 1400 Cornwall Road, Oakville, ON L6J 7W5
This is a short move that is literally down the street from our current location.
Please update your contact information accordingly. Our phone numbers and email will remain the same.
The Directors of The Charis Foundation are saddened by the death of Leslie Doreen Bernardo on June 18, 2014. Leslie was our last founding Director and we feel a profound sense of loss. Below is a brief overview of Leslie's life taken from her Celebration of Life service held at Chartwell Baptist Church on June 25th.
Leslie Doreen Bernardo
February 13, 1937 – June 18, 2014
Anyone who had ever known Leslie – or had even encountered her briefly – will remember her as a woman of grace and dignity. She had a serene and regal presence that sometimes belied her sharp wit and intense curiosity. A life-long learner and gifted conversationalist, Leslie had interests ranging from horticulture to history, fishing to fashion, from medicine to missions, and she could speak knowledgeably with anyone about anything. Her love of beauty was evident in her home, where she displayed her beloved orchid collection, an assortment of hand-made pottery, and beautiful artifacts from her many adventures to exotic destinations.
Born in Hamilton in 1937, the daughter of the late Leslie and Elsie Johnson, Leslie spent most of her early years in Brantford, where she met her future husband, Robert J. R. (Bob) Bernardo in high school. Upon graduation from McMaster University, Leslie worked as a high school English teacher at North Park Collegiate in Brantford. After their marriage in 1960, Leslie and Bob had two children, Geoff and Karen, who joined them in making many wonderful family memories, especially enjoying cottage life on Lake Joseph. Fishing was a special interest for the men, and Leslie would delight in preparing the “catch of the day” for dinner.
In 1995, the Bernardo family established the Charis Foundation, where Leslie was actively involved in supporting Christian ministries conducting compassionate, educational and developmental work around the world, with a particular focus on meeting the physical and spiritual needs of women and children.
Leslie’s quiet faith in Christ was her anchor, and it was this faith that sustained her through unspeakable loss in 2005 as both Geoff and Karen died within six weeks of each other, both in their early 40s. Then, three years ago, Bob also died after a short illness. Finally, in February, Leslie’s only sibling, her brother Brian, died unexpectedly. While Leslie grieved privately, she was reluctant to burden others with her loss, always considerate of the feelings and sensitivities of others.
Soldiering on and demonstrating tremendous strength and grace, Leslie made it her mission to continue the work of the Charis Foundation and to facilitate the posthumous publication of her son Geoff’s book, which had been underway at the time of his death. In November 2013, “Fly Fishing’s Final Frontier” was published. The book launch was a special accomplishment for Leslie, and was her last opportunity to meet with her vast network of friends and admirers before becoming ill early this year.
Leslie was diagnosed with end-stage cancer in February. After spending two months in hospital, she decided to spend her final weeks in palliative care in her home where she passed away late in the day on June 18th. Leslie was a unique gift from God to us. She is already dearly missed. We are grateful that she is at rest, that she is in the presence of the God she loved and that she is reunited with her family. There is something profoundly good about all that.
Those wishing to give a memorial gift in Leslie’s honour are welcome to contribute to Yonge Street Mission, 306 Gerrard St., Toronto, ON, M5A 2G7
Bob was born in Brantford, Ontario, son of the late Samuel and Denta Bernardo. After graduating from Brantford Collegiate Institute, he earned an M.B.A. degree from the University of Western Ontario. He developed a keen interest in finance and later received his degree as a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Along with his partners, he was a founding member of Sceptre Investment Counsel, based in Toronto, and later became Executive Vice President. He enjoyed excellent working relationships with his co-partners and always felt fortunate to work harmoniously and ethically.
His most favoured role was as husband to Leslie and father to Geoff and Karen. Although Bob devoted much of his time to Christian ministry, he also had a keen interest in fishing and photography. To his delight, his granddaughter, Phoebe (Geoff and Vita’s daughter) became a serious fisherperson in early days.
Bob participated in many short-term mission trips visiting India, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Nepal, Croatia and Romania, among others. After years of traveling, talking to many people in different walks of life and participating in funding projects internationally, Bob recognized that holistic community transformation could be enhanced by investing in certain crucial areas of development:
- providing children and adults with basic education opportunities
- training men and women in farming techniques and economic development
- training and mentoring emerging leaders, pastors and church planters
- providing access to physical essentials - food, clean water, shelter and health care
- creating safety and new opportunities for girls and women
- building schools and orphanages
- planting churches
- sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word and action
Through the years, Bob's mission became to help nationals become agents of change in their own communities.
At the age of 59, Bob ‘retired’ from his Bay Street career with Sceptre Investment to establish and run The Charis Foundation. Bob functioned as the Founding President until his death. During his full and productive life, Bob met with, prayed with and supported a very large number of missional leaders and organizations.
Bob left behind a rich legacy of people and organizations that are grateful for his mentorship and friendship.