Alberni Valley woman leaves $300,000 to BC SPCA

Rachel Oak left two generous donations to the community when she passed away in September of 2012.

She gifted the majority of her estate to the B.C. SPCA in the amount of $300,000.

“[The SPCA] was the love of her life,” said Oak’s friend Auriel Souchuck.

The two met in 1992 and had been close friends ever since.

“She asked me to be her temporary crib partner when I joined the Sunshine Club,” Souchuck said. “When her partner passed away, she asked if I would be her permanent partner. I had just retired and we became fast friends.”

Souchuck did not know about the donation until recently when she received a copy of the will and notification that Oak left her beloved Jeep to her.

“When I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s nothing to be sneezed at’,” Souchuck said, noting Oak was known for her generosity.

Active until her passing at the age of 100, Oak was an animal lover and regularly made donations to the SPCA.

Besides monetary donations, Souchuck drove Oak to purchase large 25-pound bags of dog food to drop off at the local branch of the SPCA. She enjoyed visiting the staff and animals, and admired the work of branch manager, Irene Towell.

She had her own dogs as pets and cared for her last lab-cross, adopted from the SPCA, until a year or two before she passed.

In 1999, Oak moved to Westhaven, from where Souchuck picked her up for daily car rides.

“She loved to get out, especially for ice cream,” Souchuck said. “We also picked a different restaurant to go to two or three times a week. We would try it and rate it and then decide if we would go back.”

When the donation was given to the B.C. SPCA head office, the employees expressed gratitude.

“We are deeply grateful,” said Yolanda Benoit, general manager of gift planning. “I couldn’t believe it. It is definitely one of the largest donations we have received and we will fill the donor’s request to have it used to support the Port Alberni branch.”

Having received care while at Abbeyfield, Oak also left $50,000 to the West Coast General Hospital Foundation.

“We were very happy to receive that donation,” said Foundation manager Sandi Lightfoot. “It is always nice to have people donate to the hospital. It makes a world of difference.”

The funds will be used for the upcoming Christmas campaign to purchase items that will benefit all children in the Valley. Several items are on the list, including a Pediatric Glide Scope and mobile dental X-ray machine.

“I just thought [Oak] has been so generous that she deserves recognition,” Souchuck said. “She was generous as a friend, helped people and did so much for others.”

Now, Oak’s legacy will continue to help both people and animals in Port Alberni who need it most.