18 February 2023

KidsAbility holds a special place in the heart, and hands, of Peter Findlay.

The 80-year-old grandfather explained with great pride how his grandsons benefited many years ago from speech-language therapy and that they are both attending local universities today. Thanks to KidsAbility’s long-standing presence in the community, even his son-in-law received help from speech services at a young age over 50 years ago.

Sadly, these life-changing services were never opportunities for Peter. Spelling was deeply challenging for him as a boy. He didn’t receive the educational support he needed. As a result, his confidence plummeted, and he carried the humiliation of repeating third grade because of it. 

“I promised myself that I’d put my talents into acts of ‘giving while living’ to ensure children receive the support I never had,” explained Peter.

And he’s doing it today with the tools at – and in – his hands.  

Peter is a retired professor from Conestoga College’s Woodworking Department and a former Joseph Schneider Haus Folk Artist-in-Residence who has earned many accolades and achievements in his 40+ year career spanning industry and education. And while he isn’t an engineer by education, he believes his natural ability to think like one and visualize the end project is the key to his combined success in furniture design and computer drafting.

“It wasn’t until my potential was realized much later at high school and then college that I discovered I could creatively solve problems using my hands. My whole world opened up with the introduction to working with wood. I learned to risk failure to see how far I could go. Wood became the medium I used to see those visions become a reality.”

His love of the creative process also makes him passionate about using his talents to help others, like the finely polished wooden blocks adorned with numbers and letters he recently created lovingly by hand which he donated to KidsAbility.

“I wanted to create something of purpose and meaning that could be used daily in a child’s learning.” 

Peter credits his giving spirit to deeply rooted personal values, strengthened by the early lessons he received from his family.

“I had a paper route as a child,” Peter explains. “I learned the act of tithing from my parents, humble folks who instilled in me that part of my earnings should be given to help others. It’s something that I always remember.”

Peter’s philanthropy extends in many ways to assist future generations. In addition to founding a scholarship and bursary with Conestoga College’s woodworking department, Peter and his wife, Lone, prioritize providing ongoing support to KidsAbility with their financial gifts.

“It took me attending an event that was in support of the organization that got me thinking about my family’s involvement with KidsAbility,” shared Peter. “It triggered my interest to give back, which I did immediately. From that first event to today, Lone and I continue to give. We know every dollar is used to meet and improve the needs of our community. And I feel comforted knowing it gives children the opportunities I never had those many years ago.” 

Community support makes a tremendous impact in addressing the greatest needs of kids and their families at KidsAbility. If you’d like to learn more about how to support, please connect with Lisa Talbot, Executive Director at ltalbot@kidsability.ca.