Through the George and Helen Vari Foundation, Helen Vari and her late husband, the Honourable George Vari (1923-2010), touched many lives. In 1997, they established the Vari Scholarships, which have provided life-changing support to Victoria College students intending to enter the teaching profession and students already pursuing teaching qualification at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). These generous scholarships are the largest single awards available to education students at the university. Over more than 25 years, more than 109 students have benefited.
Recently, Helen Vari also created the George and Helen Vari Scholars at Risk award to help students whose lives and careers were imperiled in their home countries. To date, the award has empowered 51 students in need of refuge to continue their educations at U of T.
“Scholarships touch students very closely,” said Erica Walker, dean of OISE, “and Mrs. Vari made these awards all the more memorable by forging a connection with each Vari Scholar. They knew first-hand she wanted to ensure that talented students with a passion for teaching get a fair chance to make a difference in their chosen fields. Every student she helped, and all of us at OISE, will always appreciate that.”
“We are grateful indeed,” said Rhonda McEwen, president of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. “Helen and George Vari have empowered those who will go on to shape future generations through their teaching, and inspired them with an example of compassion in action. We at Victoria valued her friendship and how she went above and beyond to encourage students. I will always remember her warm welcome to me, and all of us at Vic will miss her warm interest and care.”