Victoria Marie Sousa was only 12 years old when she died from complications from the H1N1 flu. A bright, athletic girl, her life was shaped by her love for family and her strong faith. Now, in her memory, her family has created the Victoria Foundation which follows the tenets of Sister Catherine McCauley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831.

Louis Sousa, Victoria’s father, is partner in the Rhode Island law firm of Lisa & Sousa, LTD. The firm represents many Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners and has been the general counsel for the DDIFO for over 20 years.

“Our hope in establishing the foundation is to foster the spirit of our daughter by giving young girls and women educational and athletic opportunities they would not be able to enjoy without help,” said Sousa. “Personal satisfaction comes from providing the opportunity to flourish in a nurturing educational environment, and pursue athletic achievement, following the same path our daughter would have followed but for her passing.  It is immensely rewarding.”

“We were saddened to learn about Victoria’s death,” said DDIFO President Jim Coen. “After the creation of the Foundation that bears her name we wanted to make sure the entire Dunkin’ Donuts franchise community was aware of the story so those that are willing to help can contribute to the cause, and make a difference in a young person’s life,  in the name of Victoria. The Victoria Fund graphic above will always have a place here at”

In December, the Foundation awarded its first scholarship to a Rhode Island student athlete so that she may attend St. Mary’s Academy Bay View in East Providence. Sousa says the family was moved by the gesture.

“Her parents broke down and cried when we approached them about our desire to help their daughter.  Last night they presented us with an album with their daughter’s picture on page 1, with many more pages to fill for deserving young women in the future.”

Donations to the Victoria Foundation are being accepted through Lisa & Sousa, LTD. 5 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02904.