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Long-time auxiliary volunteer chosen to receive distinguished service award

Shannon Coull, Leo Finnegan and Barb McConnell flank Susan Law at the presentation of the distinguished service award.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
To a standing ovation and enthusiastic applause, Susan Law, a Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary volunteer, was presented the prestigious 2023 Leo Finnegan Distinguished Service Award.

Nominated by auxiliary past president Pat Evans, on behalf of the auxiliary, and presented by Leo Finnegan and Barbara McConnell (PECMHF chairperson), the special ceremony took place during the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Annual General Meeting held at the Ameliasburgh Town Hall, Wednesday afternoon.

A grateful and thankful Law said she was surprised by the recognition. “To say I am overwhelmed about this award is an understatement. When you volunteer over the years, you don’t keep a score card,” said Law.
“I would like to accept this award, not just for myself, but on behalf of the hundreds of wonderful volunteers.”

She also spoke to a wonderful partnership that has developed between the auxiliary and the foundation.

“We are passionate, energetic, dedicated, caring and above all else, focused on supporting the hospital’s patients and families,” said Law. “Every day, we contribute to the betterment of our County hospital and I am proud to stand amongst so many deserving volunteers.”

McConnell also recognized the PECMH auxiliary saying they are a huge part of the fundraising effort, describing them as “very special in our hearts for being there time and time again”.

Evans noted how there are generally two kinds of volunteers: one type takes on leadership roles, and other type takes on more of a behind-the-scenes, quiet role.

“The auxiliary chose to nominate Sue because she is both types of volunteers and has provided over 25 years of service in order to support health care in Prince Edward County,” said Evans. She further noted how Law has been a constant presence in the PECMH since she first started volunteering with the auxiliary on Oct. 31, 1998, and continues to volunteer to this day.

“Her auxiliary volunteer duties include holding the offices of board vice-president, board president, and past president. These positions of leadership led the auxiliary through six years of growth and required many hours of organizing events, attending and chairing board meetings and participation at a regional and provincial events.”

“Law was chosen to be recognized for this year’s award because of her commitment and influential leadership for the PECMHF, as well as the PECMH Auxiliary,” said Shannon Coull, PECMHF executive director.

Leo Finnegan honoured Susan Law, recipient of the award named in his honour.

“Your leadership, dedication and commitment to excellence has helped secure the reputation of our County hospital as one of the best rural hospitals in Ontario, something we can be very proud of,” said Leo Finnegan. “If it were not for volunteers, our County would be in a very difficult position. You are one of the exemplary volunteers that has given much of your life to helping others.”

The award recognizing and honouring an individual or organization that demonstrates outstanding volunteer effort to advance the role and services of the PECMHF, was first given out in 2022 to its namesake, Finnegan, now age 89.

Law was the auxiliary president (2009-2011) and under her leadership the auxiliary “took a leap of faith” and made a commitment to donate $1 million towards a new hospital.

“The auxiliary was the first community partner to sign on and to announce support for this initiative,” reminded Evans.

She noted Law was the president responsible for leading the decision to expand the Second Time Around Shop and was instrumental in moving it to the larger storefront that it occupies today.

“This move resulted in the shop becoming the fundraising machine that it is today.“

Evans described Law’s commitment to the hospital as “unparalleled”.

She has volunteered in blood donor clinics, the dialysis clinic, meals on wheels, and frequently on tag days, and most significant in-hospital contributions were as the manager of endoscopy for many years.

Also present were many members of the PECMHF board of directors and the volunteer fundraising cabinet committee, as well as PECMHF staff and auxiliary members.

Auxiliary members Helen Hotston; Sharon Morcom; Pat Evans; Sue Law; Cathy Starkey; Sherry Tait; Susan Quaiff, PECMHA president; Beth Law; Carol Harvey; and Peggy Payne pose for a photograph at the ceremony.

Several Quinte Health board members were in attendance, along with Lina Rinaldi (vice-present and chief nursing executive), and Stacey Daub (president and CEO).

Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson spoke to the municipality’s full support of the new hospital and the race to finish line, where he also recognized the efforts of many people in the community.

“The excitement and the energy in this room, or to any of the meetings pertaining to the hospital, is almost electric; we will charge forward and we will get this done and we will eventually get shovels in the ground and bricks laid,” said Ferguson.

He also shared some thoughts about Finnegan.

“Had Leo not stepped forward many years ago, we wouldn’t be sitting here, and we wouldn’t be as well along in the realization of a new hospital as we are without your very significant contribution, your attendance at these meetings and your engagement at all levels to commute this forward.”

Currently in the tender stage, shovels in the ground for the new hospital build are expected in 2024.

The PECMH is a charitable organization dedicated to raising funds to advance the health care for the people of Prince Edward County, and the organization is responsible for raising the community share of the funds to build the new hospital.

McConnell said it was “an incredible experience to lead a fundraising board like this when there are so many people so passionate about their hospital.”

“We have had a remarkably busy year this year, more so than perhaps any other year in my history; we really dug in, in so many ways. in continuing the work that enabled us to be able to bring more efficient and effective governance forward,” said McConnell.

“It is truly awe-inspiring that this tiny community has raised $20 million [of its $27 million goal] to help pay the community’s share of a new hospital in Prince Edward County,” she added.

She reminded there is $7 million to raise for Back the Build and funds for priority medical equipment.

McConnell also spoke to the “meat and potatoes stuff” of what they do every day to raise money to be able to buy priority medical equipment for the hospital as needed.

“The reality is this board had a bigger job than it had last year, it accomplished a bigger job than it did last year, and next year it’s going to be a bigger job than last again. After that probably bigger again, and it probably won’t end when we finally open the doors to the hospital,” she said.

To learn more about the work and the fundraising efforts of the hospital foundation, visit pecmhf.ca  To learn more about the work of the hospital auxiliary, visit pecmhaux.ca

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