Judi Schwartz's Gift to Oaxaca

“We are honoured that Judi entrusted her legacy gift to us… we will do our utmost to ensure these funds are spent as Judi would have wished.”

In her retirement, Canadian Judi Schwartz became a great friend of Oaxaca, and contributed to the betterment of low-income Oaxacan children through her involvement with the Centro de Esperanza Infantíl (CEI, also known as Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots) on Calle Crespo. Although Judi passed away in November 2018, her commitment to Oaxacan children and their families lives on, thanks to a substantial gift she left to CANFRO. In her will, she bequeathed more than $140,000 CDN to CANFRO, to be used to fund projects such as CANFRO´s School Sponsorship Project and Food Project, both operated by CANFRO through its partner agency, CEI.

“Judi had a big heart and a great zest for life,” remembers long-time friend and CANFRO project manager, Penny Hopkins. “It’s typical of her that she was so generous in leaving such a sizable gift to help children and youth in Oaxaca.”

Cliff Hinderman, who was a volunteer at CEI for many years before he passed away in 2021, knew Judi well and he agreed. “Judi’s philosophy was: Get in there and do something to help people. In addition to sponsoring a child over several years, she helped pack Christmas packages of food for our families, and at the Christmas party she distributed gifts to the kids.” With CEI currently sponsoring some 650 children, this was no small feat. “We are honoured that Judi entrusted her legacy gift to us,” said former CANFRO President Virginia Bartley. “With CEI´s input and Penny´s guidance as project manager for the two projects involved, we will do our utmost to ensure these funds are spent as Judi would have wished.”

In her career, Judi was the founding curator and director of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House in the University of Toronto. She held this position from 1983 until her retirement in 2006. In her role, she was a passionate advocate for student participation in the visual arts. Judi also served as Chair of the Board of Famous People Players, the world-renowned black-light puppetry theatre company that employs people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“As many Canadians who live in or visit Oaxaca know, it’s an amazing place with a rich history and culture—yet it’s also one of the most economically challenged regions of Mexico,” says Penny Hopkins. “Judi knew this well and chose to do what she could to help build a better future for children from low-income, often Indigenous, families. Her spirit lives on in this touching gift to Oaxaca.”

Read more about the benefits of Legacy Giving.