The Morris Family at Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

The Morris Family: Defining Their Legacy

Legacy giving is a family affair for the Morrises. They recognize legacy giving as a powerful way to extend their support, while also building their family’s own unique story for its future generations.

Running in the family

Philanthropy is a family affair for the Morrises. Nancy and Eric Morris moved to Markham with their two children, Brad and Jennifer, in 1977. A close-knit family, the Morrises have grown up sharing and doing everything together—weekly dinners, vacationing, and leading a business, Grote Industries. But it was matriarch Nancy’s career as a nurse that nurtured a multi-generational passion for supporting health care and Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH).

“We were brought up with a culture of ‘do what you can’ to get involved,” explains Brad. “It really came from a place of first respecting what mom did, what she is, and what she represents.”

The family’s history with philanthropy extends to Nancy’s grandfather, Fred Landon, who was heavily involved in board work, volunteer work, as well as being chair of the Victorian Order of Nurses. Although Brad never met his great-grandfather, he spent a lot of time learning about the important work he did and used it as inspiration for his own life.

“It’s about creating a characteristic of giving, finding something that’s personal to you and giving it your time and energy,” says Brad.

Making a difference with MSH

The Morris family has made giving back to MSH a cornerstone of their family values. Brad is a former Board Chair of MSH Foundation, an MSH Hero, a monthly donor, and is involved in countless community fundraisers including The Annual MSH Foundation Golf Tournament—the Foundation’s longest running community event. He even trekked Mount Everest to raise money for MSH in 2018.

When asked what has changed about MSH over his years of dedicated involvement, it’s what hasn’t changed that resonates with Brad most. “There is an intense commitment at MSH to give the single best patient interaction or experience possible, to both the patient and their family,” reflects Brad. “That hasn’t changed, no matter how big the hospital has gotten.”

With his wife Lara, Brad has fostered the family tradition of getting involved at MSH with both their daughters, Hannah and Erica, from a young age. As children, both Erica and Hannah asked to donate to MSH on their birthdays for multiple years in a row.

“We have exposed them as much as possible to areas we have chosen to get involved in and support,” says Brad. “The lesson that government doesn’t fund the hospital’s priority needs is an important one.”

It’s about finding your own capacity to give, which doesn’t have to be a lot. You give what you can.

Nancy Morris

A lifetime of care

Having MSH close to home has made all the difference for the Morris family over the years. The family has experienced generations of care there, from the births of Erica and Hannah, to the compassionate palliative care Lara’s mother received.

“From start of life to end, there is one thing we all share—that we are going to need the hospital at one, or multiple, stages of our life,” Brad comments.

“In a lot of situations, time is the most important thing,” Nancy adds. “It’s peace of mind having a hospital close to you.”

Currently, Brad’s sister Jennifer is navigating her recent diagnosis with diabetes at MSH’s Adult Diabetes Clinic. “We cannot say enough about the entire Adult Diabetes Clinic team. Their comfort, their professionalism, their support in navigating something that at first can feel intimidating or scary, makes all the difference,” adds Brad.

Owning your story

One thing every Morris family member has in common is their belief in the future of MSH. They are all legacy donors, having made the personal decision to leave MSH as a beneficiary in their wills. The Morrises recognize legacy giving as a powerful way to extend their support, while also building their family’s own unique story for its future generations.

“In the end, you hope you have created an environment that helps your kids feel safe, happy, and healthy—that’s my checklist,” says Brad.  A part of that checklist includes investing in MSH’s bold vision for the ever-changing landscape of health care. “There’s an expectation and a hope for what we believe the MSH Foundation can do,” says Brad about his decision to be a legacy donor.

“It’s also about finding your own capacity to give, which doesn’t have to be a lot,” adds Nancy. “You give what you can.”

Above all, the Morrises believe that everyone should be empowered to own their story and how it is remembered. “Define what legacy means to you and then create and protect that. It is important financially, spiritually and visionary. Why would you leave someone else to decide for you?” asks Brad.

May is Leave a Legacy month in Canada, a time to highlight the impact of providing a charitable contribution that ensures a lifetime of care for our growing, aging, and diverse community. Naming MSH Foundation in your will is a powerful act of giving.

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