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David Smith receives 2024 Leo Finnegan award

At the presentation of the award, from left, were: Leo Finnegan with Peggy Payne, David Smith, Mike Lattner and Nancy Parks.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Now in its third year, the 2024 Leo Finnegan Distinguished Service Award (LFDSA) was presented to David Smith, described as one of the Rotary Club of Wellington’s most influential volunteers, and an individual who initiated and sustained Wellington Rotary’s commitment to the Back the Build campaign for five years.

Smith was chosen to be recognized for this year’s award because of his commitment and influential leadership for the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF) and the Rotary Club of Wellington.

Co-nominated by Nancy Parks (Back the Build chairperson) and Mike Lattner (past president, Rotary Club of Wellington), the award ceremony held at the Wellings of Picton on Thursday afternoon formed part of the foundation’s annual general meeting.

Parks, Lattner and Finnegan himself spoke to Smith’s commitment and dedication, sharing a little about his background and achievements in the community. They especially touched on his focus with Wellington Rotary’s campaign to raise funds for the Back the Build campaign for a new hospital for Prince Edward County, something Parks said Smith not only advocated for, but inspired others to do the same.

“David stood out to me as an individual who has tirelessly given his time and efforts, with tenacity, to secure a fantastic amount of funds for our new hospital (over six years),” added Parks. “He truly exemplifies the skills, qualities and actions of the LFDSA.”

Lattner spoke to how Smith was the driving force behind Wellington Rotary’s donation of $444,120.42 for the hospital, also ensuring a significant portion of the proceeds from Wellington Rotary’s bottle depot were donated to the hospital annually.

“David encouraged contacts and friends to contribute to the new hospital and many to pledge annual commitments,” Lattner said. “He was instrumental in helping Wellington Rotary to partner with local wineries to produce and sell Wellington Rotary private label wine as a fundraiser for Back the Build.”

Presenting the award to Smith were Leo Finnegan, a former PECMHF board member, along with Shannon Coull, PECMHF executive director.

“David has provided sustained service, unwavering commitment and philanthropic leadership to PECMHFs Back the Build campaign through the Rotary Club of Wellington,” said Coull. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to formally recognize the achievements of such an exceptional and dedicated volunteer.”

David Smith

Honoured to be receiving the award and for the significant recognition, Smith said it was fitting that the award, named for Leo Finnegan, would be presented to a Wellington Rotarian, since Finnegan was instrumental in bringing Rotary to Wellington over 22 years ago.

“This has been an extremely rewarding experience, but I want to make it clear that I am being recognized with this award for being the person who introduced the idea to the Wellington Rotary Club of raising money for the new hospital, the catalyst, and then helping to do so, the club then ran with the idea of making it the success it has become,” said Smith.

The LFDSA honours an individual or organization that demonstrates outstanding volunteer effort to advance the role and service of the PECMHF. Accomplishments considered may include philanthropic leadership, organizational leadership, community support development, fundraising, stewardship of donors and public awareness efforts that contribute to the health of the people of Prince Edward County.

Inspired and named after its first recipient, the LFDSA is presented to individuals who, through their on-going loyalty, commitment, outstanding contribution and service, have shown dedication to and support for the PECMHF, its vision, mission and strategic imperatives and priorities. Recipients of the prestigious award will have made a significant impact on the health and well-being of the community as a result of their sustained volunteerism and leadership.

The award is presented to a volunteer has who exhibited exceptional commitment and service to the PECMH and is selected by the PECMHF board of directors annually. Any volunteer, hospital staff member, hospital board or committee members, member of the community, or third-party event organizer may be nominated. While an annual event, the award is not automatically given each year, but only in those years when an exceptional individual fits the criteria.

Past winners of the award include Sue Law, in 2023 and Finnegan in 2022.

Also on Thursday, just prior to the start of the AGM, members of the Rotary Club of Wellington, and others, including PECMHF and Quinte Health board members, gathered outside where $29,095 was presented by Wellington Rotary to the foundation.

The funds fulfil and complete Wellington Rotary’s commitment to fund the balance of the purchase of a transport ventilator for the emergency department of the hospital.

The donation comprised $10,787.28 for the ventilator, and $18,308 for the fundraising efforts for the new hospital.

“Funds for the ventilator were raised during the spring season by selling Rotary-branded maple syrup, with funds for the Back the Build donated by individual donors, including the Nicholson Island Club (a private hunt club located on Nicholson Island), which donated $15,000 through the Rotary Club of Wellington Foundation.”

In June 2023, the PECMHF received partial funding from the Stark Family Fund to purchase one ventilator. The Rotary Club of Wellington has funded the balance, approximately $22,000 (one ventilator is estimated to cost more than $56,000).

Funds raised by the PECMHF by the community go toward purchasing essential equipment, something that is not covered by the government.

“Donors fund every piece of medical equipment PECMHF purchases. Without community fundraising, our hospital would not have the financial means to purchase devices like this transport monitor,” said Coull. “Having the right technology close to home in the County improves diagnosis and length of treatments by giving our care champions the tools they need to save lives.”

The transport ventilator will allow hospital staff timely access to equipment, particularly when a patient requires ventilation right away, said Lisa Mowbray, hospital site lead and manager of patient services at PECMH.

“These ventilators support all patient populations, from neonates to adults,” said Mowbray. “No matter where the patient is, or where they need to go, the ventilator will stay by their side, providing continuous support in the emergency department, or any transport situation in or outside the hospital.”

Coull noted that the emergency room waiting area in the new County hospital will be named to recognize Wellington Rotary’s fundraising efforts.

At the AGM, PECMHF noted and celebrated another successful fundraising year with $4.2 million raised in its 2023/2024 fiscal year ending March 31. With $23 million already raised, there is just another $4 million left to raise of the $27 million target, which is the community’s portion required for the new build.

Shovels in the ground at the new hospital site are expected to be imminent, to take place this summer, with the expectation the new hospital will open its doors in late 2027.

Incoming board chairperson Peggy Payne with David Smith.

Also announced was one change to the volunteer PECMHF board with chairperson Barbara McConnell stepping down from the role, and vice-chairperson Peggy Payne stepping into the chairperson role. The vice-chairperson role currently remains vacant.

McConnell said her participation on the volunteer board, first as a director, and then as chairperson, has been a deeply rewarding one.

“I see PECMHFs mission to raise money to support quality healthcare for everyone in the County as some of the most critical services available in this community,” said McConnell. “I am very proud of the board of directors, the campaign cabinet and the staff for their commitment to advancing our efforts and reaching our goals.”

A number of directors retiring include Dennis Darby, Leo Finnegan, Ken Menlove and Steve Geist, with one new member welcomed, Jeff DiBattista.

The 2024/2025 PECMHF board of directors comprises 14 directors, Peggy Payne, David Griffith, Susan Quaiff, Doug Taylor, Mohamed Khimji, Wendy Reid, Jeff DiBattista, Sandra Foreman, Monica Alyea, Ann Galvin, Andrew Janikowski, Cliff Rice, Sherry Tait and Barbara McConnell.

To learn more about the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s work, for updates on the Back the Build campaign and the new hospital, or to donate, visit pecmhf.ca

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