What was started 23 years ago by one faithful and generous family has now reached 90 countries and has helped change countless lives around the world.

Our History

In 1995, The Charis Foundation was established by Bob and Leslie Bernardo, along with their adult children Geoff and Karen. The foundation was one of the means through which the Bernardo family responded to the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of people around the world. The Bernardos believed they were richly blessed by God in order to bless others.

From its inception, The Charis Foundation’s desire has been to bring hope and healing to the world in the name of Jesus. The Bernardo family’s heart for the marginalized and the oppressed and their understanding of God’s transforming love for all creation led them to support a wide range of charitable activities not only in Canada but around the globe.  It is the faith of our founders and now our faith that motivates and animates all that we do through The Charis Foundation.

In 2005, Bob and Leslie were devastated by the loss of both children. Karen and Geoff passed away within six weeks of each other from unrelated causes. These were dark days for Bob and Leslie, but they were never without hope or the comforting presence of God who loved and sustained them even in the face of incomprehensible loss.

Following the loss of their children Bob and Leslie invited Peter Roebbelen (in 2005), Glynis MacGibbon (in 2008) and John Tabet (in 2010) to join their board. Both Bob and Leslie passed away from aggressive forms of cancer – first, Bob in 2010 and then Leslie in 2014. Prior to his diagnosis, Bob began discussing long term succession plans with Peter. When the advanced state of Bob’s cancer was determined, the Bernardos invited Peter to take on the role of President. Peter was installed as the Foundation’s second President in January 2011.

Since then, The Charis Foundation has undergone significant restructuring. While none of the founders remain, the core vision, mission and ethos endures. The current board, Paul Davidson, Rhondi Fowler, Brad Klinck, Glynis MacGibbon, Janet Nellich and John Tabet are committed to following Jesus, just as the Bernardos would have wanted.

We are extremely grateful for the Bernardo family’s generosity and careful planning that allows The Charis Foundation to carry on bringing hope and healing to the world.