Robin Singer-Turack

I grew up in Montreal in a traditional Jewish home often redolent with the scent of the honey cakes my mother would bake to raise funds for the MS Society and UJA. On Saturday mornings we went to synagogue with my father, and a JNF tzedakah box graced our Shabbat table next to silver candle holders. My mother had converted to Judaism and was eager to create and participate in all the traditions and holidays my father was part of. When I moved to Toronto as a single young professional, my deeply engrained values and traditions fell away for a time as often happens as a young adult.

After becoming established in my new city, I knew the best way to connect with the community I craved was to volunteer personally and professionally. I became active with the Israel Cancer Research Fund and would visit dementia patients at Baycrest weekly with my sweet standard poodle Buddy, an official Red Cross Ambulance dog.

When I married Fred Turack z”l we quickly had two beautiful daughters and became part of his large Jewish-engaged family. I resumed my active involvement in Jewish life, joined Hadassah, and found community at Temple Emanuel. However, the catalyst for shaping what became my lifelong philanthropic mindset was my husband’s diagnosis of brain cancer when our daughters were just six and eight. Sydney and Samantha decided they wanted to honour their father by creating beaded bracelets to raise money for brain cancer research. The Blue Brain Bracelet mushroomed into a fund-raising initiative that eventually contributed $100,000 to The Gerry and Nancy Pencer Brain Trust Foundation at Princess Margaret Hospital. It was then I began to learn that giving back can offer the best healing and joy in a difficult time.

In 2009, I was invited to attend the Kellogg Jewish Leaders Inner Circle for a week at Northwestern University in Chicago, a mini-MBA in non-profit management, and by the end of that week I knew that my future path lay in that sector. I returned to Kellogg to complete that designation and others. Ever since, I have been helping major gift donors accelerate their donations, support their favourite charities and create a legacy of giving for their children and grandchildren. It has been the most rewarding part of my career thus far.

Establishing the Robin Turack Family fund followed easily. It has allowed us to be more thoughtful and deliberate about the causes we choose to support. Generosity begins in the heart, and charity begins at home. This is the legacy I want to leave to my girls