It’s estimated that mental health disorders begin before age 16 in about half of those individuals impacted. With the current pandemic acting as an accelerant for mental health issues, a recent research investment from Toronto residents Laura and Anthony Beck is particularly momentous.
It was curiosity that led Anthony’s parents Mary and Tom, to begin their relationship as devoted supporters of the Weizmann Institute of Science back in the 1960s. While on a mission trip, Mary had spotted a drip irrigation system in the desert and asked how it came to be. The couple was directed to the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Since that time, Weizmann has been a significant part of Anthony’s life and is an organization for which he remains incredibly passionate.
For Laura — who similarly follows in the footsteps of her own parents’ history of giving — this gift is also about setting an example for their children Tamara, 21 and Gideon, 18.
“For me, it all comes down to showing our children what needs to be done in order to continue with our family’s belief in “Tikkun Olam,” says Laura. In keeping with this Jewish belief of improving the world, she adds “I feel very strongly about showing our kids that it’s now our turn to take the reins of philanthropy. It’s up to us to show the next generations how fulfilling it can be to give back.”
Both of their children are Queen’s University students in Kingston, ON. Tamara is finishing her last year and Gideon is in his first year.
And, both children take pride in the family’s long legacy in science and with the Weizmann Institute.
Gideon proudly displayed a poster on his bedroom door as a child – a gift from his grandparents — with an illustration of Weizmann’s Clore Garden of Science. It’s a pride that offered a surreal on-campus visit to experience their family’s legacy firsthand, as well as to see the garden come to life. And Tamara’s love of science led her to choose a career path in health sciences.
Investing in future generations is also at the heart of Laura and Anthony’s gift, which will support research in neuroscience related to youth at risk through the establishment of an endowment fund: Laura and Anthony Beck and Family Fund for Research in Neuroscience. A portion of the gift will support a partnership between Weizmann’s Prof. Ofer Yizhar (who visited Weizmann Canada earlier this year) and Dr. Florence Cavalli from the University of Toronto.
Anthony has long been particularly passionate about finding solutions to deal with issues of mental health.
“I recognize the good fortune that I’ve had, of being born in this city — and, in this country — and I wanted to do something that will give back,” says Anthony. When he also learned of newly appointed Weizmann president Prof. Alon Chen’s research background in neurobiology, it’s like a lightbulb went off.
“It was immediate – like OK great, now I can get them to figure out how to work together,” he adds. By working directly with the leadership at the Weizmann Institute, the symbiotic partnership with the University of Toronto was established.
“Science is something that is concrete, that is tangible – and the results can be seen – it’s something you can sink your teeth into,” says Laura.
For others considering investing in Weizmann, Anthony offers “Find something that you’re really passionate about — whether it’s cancer research, something in physics, or whatever it is — and when you find that, and no matter the level of your contribution, you will feel remarkably rewarded and fortunate to be in that position to give back.”
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