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Hospital Auxiliary celebrates its volunteers – every day Super Heroes

The women behind the smocks (along with a few good men) honoured the work of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary volunteers during an appreciation tea on Sunday.

Celebrating 80 Years of Caring, the auxiliary also launched a video telling stories of past and present and honouring the volunteers who make it all unfold.

“After looking back through all the historical events, I think dedication is big thing,” said Wanda Strachan, past president, who listed the many auxiliary services in the video, and the years they started.

“The volunteer services, in my day, were a lot different than the volunteer service of today,” said Helen Kelmsley, who retired as an RN in 1944 and was an auxiliary volunteer throughout the 80s. “The volunteer women back in the 40s, most of them were doctor’s wives, or politician’s wives. They had an old treadle sewing machine and they sewed up anything that needed sewing. We couldn’t afford to buy stuff. They just sat there and did it. They didn’t visit patients or anything like that then.

“You had to pay, if you were a patient in the hospital,” she recalled. “A lot of people paid by produce because the County was a farmers’ dream, really, at the time, and with the government’s either assistance – or interference – things were different.”

Peggy Payne, the current auxiliary president, said she has found it interesting to discover facts about the auxiliary members.
“In 1919 they started helping the men do their Tag Day although they didn’t actually incorporate until 1934. If you look through the old records, these people have been buying some un-glamourous equipment for 80 years – you see commodes coming up again and again, you see mammography equipment come up again and again. So at each stage of more impressive technological developments and imaging, the auxiliary’s been right there helping the purchase of equipment.”

Payne noted the auxiliary has raised well over $2 million since the start but thinks that money “doesn’t mean as much as the smiles, the pat on the back and the helping people. Everybody knows that equipment keeps increasing in cost but kindness comes with no price,” she said.

Aux-cakeCounty doctors, nurses, hospital staff members and volunteers all spoke of the value of the auxiliary.

“Patients love the auxiliary members,” says Dr. Elizabeth Christie, president of the Family Health Team. “They’re such a friendly, warm face when you walk in the front door… We see them helping the patients with various aspects of their functioning in the hospital… I know our patients are all very grateful.”

Helpful, kind, considerate, constant presence in the community.

Volunteers honoured for their many hours contributed to the auxiliary were: Ursula Cattelan, Shirley Oliver, Dorothy Vincent, Fran Renoy, Ann White, Fran Donaldson, Pam Strachan, Virginia Blakely, Susan Law, Wanda Strachan, Florence McWilliams, and with 8,000 hours – Rebecca MacKellar.

Honoured for years of service were:
Jill Currah (10), Fran Donaldson, (10), Jacqui ireland (10), Lori Markland (10), Charlie Vincent (10), Linda Wadforth (10), Susan Law (15), Ginny Vincent (15), Josie Eaglesham (30), Marion Smith (35). Not at the tea, but honoured, were: Pat Burry (10), Joanne Matheson, (10), Dorothy Stratton (15) and Ivy Helmer (40).

The auxiliary started the Mae West Awards last year, to recognize volunteers, not for many hours, or years, but who have showed initiative and ingenuity, when faced with unusual circumstances.

“Mae West is reported to have said that ‘Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until they get into hot water.’ The quote is also attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but Mae West is our choice,” said president Payne.

Georgia Taylor was named the first recipient. She was working at the Coffee Cart, during the coldest days of winter, and noticed a patient in pajamas leaving emergency to get into a cab. She found them a blanket and then found a way to have cardigans or winter coats available for patients in similar circumstances.”

Catherine Walker, who made the proposal to create the auxiliary video to honour the 80th anniversary, was the second recipient.
“She was thinking that there might be five people willing to speak, on tape. When she received the schedule of 18 people, over three days of filming, she demonstrated the responsibility, hard work ethic, and resolve of Mae West. On her own time, she edited hours of video down to the 16 minutes, that you enjoyed today,” said Payne.

Denise Ward was the third Mae West Award recipient.

“She is a very capable truck driver. She sees what needs to be done and follows up. She has made many trips to Northport to pick up donations and then trips to the dump after donations were sorted. People cleaning out houses bring photos of larger items to the Second Time Around Shop and this person drives to pick up worthwhile items. She is the first to volunteer.”

The final winner was Bev Thompson – “a person willing to step in a cover when there is an executive role that needs a short-term person to cover a position. She has taken on the policies and procedures and retrieved them from the black hole in the Auxiliary office and breathed life into them. Responsibility, initiative and ingenuity. She has demonstrated all of them.”

The 80th year celebration will continue with the annual general meeting, May 21 at Huff Estate Winery and the 80th anniversary celebration luncheon, Thursday, Sept. 18 at Isaiah Tubbs Resort.

Click here to join the auxiliary, or find out more information.

Mae West awards were presented at the tea, to Denise Ward, Georgia Taylor and Catherine Walker.

Mae West awards were presented at the tea, to Denise Ward, Bev Thompson and Catherine Walker

 

In attendance at the tea, honoured for their years of service, were: Lori Markland, Josie Eaglesham, Sue Law, Ginny Vincent, Marion Smith, Charlie Vincent, Fran Donaldson, Jill Currah, Jacqui Ireland, Linda Wadforth.

In attendance at the tea, honoured for their years of service, were: Lori Markland, Josie Eaglesham, Sue Law, Ginny Vincent, Marion Smith, Charlie Vincent, Fran Donaldson, Jill Currah, Jacqui Ireland, Linda Wadforth.

 

In attendance at the tea, honoured for their many hours of service, were: Rebecca MacKellar, Wanda Strachan, Fran Donaldson, Virginia Blakeley, Ann White; Susan Law, Dorothy Speirs-Vincent, Shirley Oliver, Pam Strachan and Ursula Cattelan.

In attendance at the tea, honoured for their many hours of service, were: Rebecca MacKellar, Wanda Strachan, Fran Donaldson, Virginia Blakeley, Ann White; Susan Law, Dorothy Speirs-Vincent, Shirley Oliver, Pam Strachan and Ursula Cattelan.

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