What would you do if you scooped a massive lottery win? Take long holidays? Buy a big house? How many of us would use our winnings to set up a charity? This is the story of the Lottery Winning Beauty Queen Who Gave Up All Her Money…
Rachel Lapierre and Her Road to Winning
In 2013 former Canadian beauty Queen Rachel Lapierre had a huge win on the lottery. So far, so good – you’d think the tale that follows will simply tell you everything she spent her money on, and how she never expected to win anything at all – or how she was just going to focus on paying her bills and taking long holidays. Well, think again. Rachel’s story should inspire others who win the lottery to take stock, look around them and see what good they can do with their winnings.
Rachel told the Journal de Montreal: “In 2013, I bought a lottery ticket, which I never do”. Like most people, she wasn’t expecting to win anything but hit the jackpot and ended up netting £605 (or C$1000) a week for life in the Quebecois lottery “Gagnant à vie”, or “winner for life”. I grew up in a poor environment and saw misery and sadness. I told myself that if we put it down, if we all made a small gesture, the world would be better.
Within 8 weeks Rachel had left her job as a Nurse and decided to set up and launch a charity called “Le Book Humanitaire”…
Her Former Life Seems Miles Away
Rachel’s new life was much, much different to her old one. Thirty years previously, Rachel, now 58, was a Beauty Queen who had joined a local modelling school and ended up entering the Miss Quebec Competition. In 1982 she won, and as part of her prize she spent the next year touring Canada. Rachel admits she had a misconception that many other people share, about beauty contests – saying she thought they were all going to be filled with vapid, vacuous people who had no talent other than being blonde or blue eyed. She admits she was wrong and the year and a half she worked as Miss Quebec gave her an astonishing education.
Rachel commented that even at the age of 20, she knew she loved helping people, but had no idea her life would eventually end up going in that direction full time.
Her success as a beauty Queen and model drove her to set up her own modelling school, which had an aim of helping other young women succeed in a tough, competitive industry. First, I always thought that beauty is what you release. I wanted to help girls to love each other, to be fulfilled.
When she started her own family, she shut her business down, but the yearning to help people continued to affect her. “I have always wanted to help, in different ways,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for 25 years.”
She began to train as a nurse and ended up working in the emergency rooms in Quebec. During this time, the seeds of what happened after her lottery win would be sown, though she wouldn’t know it at the time. She was regularly working with humanitarian organizations and was seeing the devastation and suffering that people went through. It deeply touched her at the time.
Beauty Queen Wins the Lottery
Then, she played the lottery – and actually won. Something that many of us can only dream of. Rachel said she’d figured out a plan for if she won. But never believed it would happen – saying “If I won, I would go ahead with this project of founding a charity,” she explained. “I had [already] been doing humanitarian aid for many years.”
Since founding the charity, things have consistently been on the up- as thousands of volunteers got involved. With the Humanitarian Book, we try to make a difference to everyone’s lives. Picking up the story, Rachel comments: “For example, we distribute bananas to people on the street. When they wake up with a banana by their side, they know we’re here…” such a small thing can mean a lot to people who have nothing.
Her mission as head of Humanitarian Book is simple, to put people in need, in touch with people who can help. “People, organizations, hospitals, schools and other organizations regularly call us to help communities. In Quebec, we work a lot with Father’s House, for example. Hot meals and clothes are offered to street people. We regularly go to India, Calcutta, to participate in street clinics, health prevention, help young girls get out of the street, sing for the poor or feed them. We also accompany people at the end of life” Rachel says.
Inspired by Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa said, “The smallest action done with much love changes the world.” And this is the inspiration behind the Humanitarian Book. “When Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta, she had no training, but she helped the people in the street. She is my inspiration because, spontaneously, she helped” adds Rachel.
In fact Calcutta is where Rachel now spends time, in the same haunts Mother Teresa must have done, during her own life. Picking up the story, Rachel comments: “In Calcutta, where we go very often, we sleep in dormitories for eight people. We eat in different small restaurants, but we always invite someone from the street to eat with us. More and more people are helping us. One day, we fed, hydrated and washed a dying person.” She says, these experiences taught her, and her fellow humanitarians, not to take anything they had for granted, even if it was a simple meal of spaghetti at the end of a very long day.
The work ranges from providing hot food and clothes to the homeless in Quebec to street clinics in Kolkata – where they organize regular trips.
The charity is funded by donations and any shortfalls are made up from Rachel’s own paychecks. “I pay for things such as our office rent and other administrative costs,” she told the BBC a short time after she won. She has also funded the organization of 10 full-time volunteers and its own board – entirely by herself. To date she’s invested $70,000
“This weekly C$1,000 I get from the lottery allows me to not go to work anymore and finance my organization, I pay for things such as our office rent and other administrative costs.”
Rachel’s Good Work Continues
Despite the challenges she faces and the unimaginable scenes she witnesses, Rachel has no plans to stop. In any free time she has, she is studying a workshop class on managing non-profit organisations, so she can improve at her given role. Rachel says she still gets joy from her job – and says it is nothing like running a day to day business. She says she still feels inspired and that the work feeds her soul. Good luck to her, and continued success with all she does.