Donor Spotlight Vahid Walji: If you live or work in downtown Guelph, you’d know his name.

A warm, dynamic, and much-respected man, Vahid passed away in January two years ago at the age of fifty. He was owner and operator of the New Age Health Food store on Wyndham Street, where he made hundreds of friends and loyal customers over twenty-five years. It’s been said by many that Vahid didn’t just build a business, he built a community.

His life partner, Shelina Lalani, describes Vahid as her best friend. They met on Wyndham Street where their two families operated businesses just across the busy thoroughfare from each other. Both were immigrants to Canada— Vahid from Kenya, and Shelina from Uganda. They shared a strong work ethic and community-minded values.

In 2019, Vahid was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and his close relationship with Guelph General Hospital began. Shelina recounts the exhausting procedures undertaken and the variety of specialists at the Hospital who worked with Vahid over his last year. Vahid needed ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, chemotherapy, bloodwork, paracentesis to remove fluid in the abdomen, and pain management — all available at Guelph General. In Shelina’s words, “the medical staff and all the supporting personnel were godsent, they never failed us and were so wonderful.”

Shelina shared that it was during that time when she and Vahid discussed his will, and Vahid decided to find a way to pay tribute to the Hospital and staff for the excellent care he was receiving. He had supported The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital over the years, but he wanted to make a meaningful donation to say thanks and to ensure that the excellent care he received would continue long after he was gone. He decided to leave a charitable bequest in his will to the Foundation.

Shelina is eager to share Vahid’s decision to leave a donation in his will because she understands the importance of maintaining services at Guelph General, and because she believes a charitable bequest is something anyone could do. “This is our hospital and there is nothing like it. It will be there for everyone, as it was for us. And if we, as a community, don’t support the Hospital, who will? It doesn’t matter if it’s $25 or $25,000. Every gift makes a difference.”   

A planned gift, as Vahid provided in his will, can create a lasting testament to your life, pay tribute to a loved one or establish a fund in your name. There are different types of planned gifts, each with different tax benefits. Your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, or insurance agent can help you determine what kind of planned gift would be best for you, your family, and your estate. You can also contact Matt Peltomaki, Charitable Giving Advisor at 519-837-6422 to learn more about how your planned gift to The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital will make a difference in the future of health care in your community.

Since Vahid’s death, Shelina has continued to support The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital and she encourages others to do the same. It is thanks to community support that Guelph General had the equipment to care for Vahid, and Shelina wants to do her part to ensure that our hospital maintains its well-earned reputation as one of the finest health care centres in Ontario.