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PECM Hospital Auxiliary honours volunteers who enrich the community

PECMH Auxiliary volunteers

Four of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary’s longest-serving members attending Sunday’s Volunteer Tea, from right: Virginia Blakely, Joan Mercer, Sheila Wedekamm, and Evelyn Beaumont.

The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary honoured its many volunteers and nine recipients of the first “Mae West Award” Sunday at a Volunteer Appreciation Tea held at St. Andrew’s church in Wellington.

The new award honours volunteers who possess the qualities from the famous diva’s quote: “Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are, until they get into hot water.” (Quote also attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt).

The contributions of volunteers are honoured every April with long service pins and awards.

“Over almost 80 years, the auxiliary has a proud record of dedication and accomplishment, and this year’s honorees represent many, many others whose service and generosity have enriched our community,” said Fran Donaldson, president. “Despite all the very understandable fears of cut-backs and worse, I choose to believe that our hospital will survive this difficult period and remain as an essential part of our community, but it will not and should not be the same. The crisis is not limited to QHC or even Ontario. The healthcare system everywhere is undergoing drastic and very necessary transformations. It – the whole system, not just QHC – is broken and we do need to fix it.”

What kind of “hot water” does a volunteer earning the Mae West Award encounter?

Cindy McCool, with the Coffee Cart, arrived at her position one day to find that the coffee machine wasn’t working.  The next day, the machine disappeared. Demonstrating the responsibility, initiative and ingenuity that characterize all the Mae West award nominees, Cindy asked the hospital cafeteria for permission to use their coffee machine, and was soon at her post.

Judy Publow, with Patient Services, noticed one of the hospital’s long-term patients needed someone to care for his clothes.  After checking with the charge nurse, she tried to launder his clothes, but the second floor washing machine was broken.  Judy took the clothes home and, as a further service, checked with the Second Time Around Shop as to whether slippers and a sweater could be donated.  All was accomplished.

When the nurses in the Endoscopy Department admitted to being run off their feet,  Lisa Mowbray approached the auxiliary for a new service. Four volunteers stepped forward to learn a new role, even though the future of endoscopy at Picton hospital is uncertain.  Those four nominees for the Mae West award are Jean Elgar, Susan Everall, Maureen Robinson and Elizabeth Bygrave.

The seventh nominee is Gene Plummer, who at 98-years-old, continues to work a six-hour shift at the Second Time Around Shop every other week.  She finds a ride in from Wellington, greets customers positively, and never has a bad word about anyone.

The eighth nominee decided that an annual revenue of $200,000 wasn’t enough, and proposed a way to add to the Second Time Around Shop by opening a furniture section.  With the responsibility, initiative and ingenuity of “Mae West” winners, Pam Strachan rented and renovated more space from Home Hardware. All this in addition to sustaining and increasing the camaraderie of the 80 volunteers at the store.

“Auxiliary volunteers give with their hearts to enhance care in the community,” said vice-president Peggy Payne. “An enormous thank you to all our award winners.”

auxiliary-cakeAuxiliary salutes long-serving volunteers
Several awards for long service were handed out to members who have clocked up some impressive work-time for the organization.
The pace-setters are Virginia Blakely, with 50 years of service, and Rebecca McKellar, who had chalked up 7,000 hours, as of last year.
Here are the volunteers who, this year, join the growing list of outstanding achievers.

5,000 HOURS
Mary-Jane Daubney, who is clear as to why she has enjoyed working for the Second Time Around Shop for the past 10 years: “We raise good money for a good cause”, she says. “And we have fun doing it.” Mary-Jane was born in Cressy, and has lived in the County all her life. She has three children.

Beth McConnell is the former manager and now the treasurer of the Second Time Around Shop and completed her hours working both for the shop and for the Coffee Shop. She was born in the old Picton Hospital and, earlier in her life, she lived in Cherry Valley. She is the mother of four children and now lives in Picton.

2,000 HOURS
Ann Brown, Eleanor O’Neil, Pam Strachan, and Linda Wadforth

1,000 HOURS
Dorothy Bongard, Janet Bryant, Jacqui Ireland, Barbara Kellar, Helen Kempers, Lori Markland, Joan Nelson, Beverley Thompson,  and Geralyn Walmsley.

Jean Whattam, who is recuperating from a fall, received her 40-year pin and also her 4,000 hour pin from Nancy Finnegan. She loves working in the Second Time Around Shop, either out on the shop floor, filling clothes racks, or taking cash behind the counter. She celebrates her 90th birthday at the end of this month. Jean, whose husband was a farmer in South Bay, has one child.

Betty Evans is Past President of the Auxiliary. For a time she was chair of the former Auxiliary Gift Shop. She was married to Picton dentist Dick Evans, who died five years ago. Born in the County, Betty is now 88 years old. She has five children.

Dina Heezen’s Dutch family settled in the County in 1952, and she’s been here ever since.  When she first volunteered, she found great satisfaction in doing little things for individual patients. “Just to see their smiles and the twinkle in their eyes was a great reward,” she says. Dina is the mother of six.

Barbara Woodall: Congratulations on 30 years’ service to the auxiliary to Barbara Woodall, who is currently living in Alberta.

Barbara Fairbairn was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to the County from Montreal in 1986. She began the Coffee Cart that serves in the hospital. She was also responsible for initiating the Mary Catherine Scott Suite, where families of seriously ill patients can stay. Barbara also worked in the Second Time Around Shop.

Sheila Wedekamm began working with the auxiliary after moving to the County from Ottawa. She has done a variety of jobs, including time with the Craft Group, Meals on Wheels, the Festival of Trees, and  as the auxiliary’s historian. Sheila, mother of four children, says: “I enjoyed meeting people and also working with colleagues.”

Gail Cronkwright, Madolyn Claxton and Barb Hobson were celebrated for 15 years with the auxiliary.

Sally Margueratt, Ruth MacSteven, Margaret Moore, Mary Murray, Carol Oliver, Yvonne Pettingill, Gene Plummer, Liz Robson,  and Dorothy Stratton were honoured for 10 years of service.

Evelyn Drew: More than 30 years ago, the Auxiliary’s Marathon Bridge was launched, under the direction of Jean Bird and Betty Evans. A number of others since have devoted their time and energy, among them Evelyn Drew, who has run the Marathon Bridge group for the last 10 years, sometimes with help, and sometimes by herself.

Garth Manning rewrote the auxiliary’s bylaws. When the former lawyer was asked to take a look at the organization’s rather dusty legal papers, he declared there was only one way out of the problem – and that was to start over and bring them up to the required standard. A proud Welshman, Manning joined the auxiliary a year ago as a non-voting member. His wife Linda is also an auxiliary stalwart.

“Our hospital is currently facing difficult times; however, the commitment of the auxiliary remains strong, and we shall continue to support our hospital’s staff and patients, as well as the larger community, to the very best of our abilities,” said Dorothy Speirs-Vincent, director of communications.

PECauxiliarybuttonClick here to find out more about the PECMH Auxiliary, how to join, or support.

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