‘I don't think the hospital could function without the auxiliary'
© Monique Chiasson - Truro Daily News
Bev Hale, a longtime volunteer with the Colchester Regional Hospital auxiliary, can often be found assisting customers in the hospital's coffee shop. The auxiliary serves a huge role in the longevity and well-being of the hospital.
TRURO - As the Colchester Regional Hospital auxiliary celebrates its 90th anniversary this fall, volunteers have been revisiting its significant history.
Truro's Bev Hale has been a member for more than 20 years, including past president. She remembers the early years when the auxiliary's responsibilities extended into some area it no longer covers.
"Members mended sheets, made baby blankets, did the laundry and cleaning," said Hale.
And they did much more. The auxiliary was formed on Nov. 15, 1922 as a result of being asked to provide financial assistance to the hospital, which at the time was located on West Prince Street. The auxiliary was asked to help with the interest on the new hospital mortgage, so the organization took over the mortgage, which was a total of $7,000.
"Early on, the auxiliary helped people in need pay for their hospital stay before the province had health coverage," added current president Jan Peck, of Brookfield.
Today, almost 100 volunteers, at an average age of 60, keep busy in numerous ways by organizing various fundraisers, visiting new moms with books in a new program to Truro called Read To Me, operating the hospital coffee and gift shop, and offering treats on each patient's tray during special occasions. The auxiliary will also help with the move to the new Colchester East Hants Health Centre on Abenaki Road in November.
"The new hospital will be a positive change and we will have a designated room and be more visible" near the busy lab and X-ray areas, said Peck.
And, of course, auxiliary fundraising for the hospital's needs remain a focus. In the past seven years, $800,000 was raised for the new hospital while continuing to purchase equipment and other needs for patient care, including $100,000 for a new MRI. In addition, about $6,000 was raised for the training of MRI technicians.
"People don't realize all we do for the hospital," said Peck of the continuous fundraising and patient care initiatives undertaken by the auxiliary. "There would be longer wait times for some of these things if it wasn't for the auxiliary."
"Volunteers are the mainstay of the organization," added Hale. "I don't think the hospital could function without the auxiliary."
And while there appears to be many volunteers, most of the helpers are seniors and some of them will no longer be able to remain volunteers when everything moves to the new hospital.
"We'll lose about a half dozen but that's a lot for us because everybody chips in and it makes a big difference," said Peck.
The women said volunteers of all ages are always welcome.
Anyone wanting to become an auxiliary volunteer can drop into the hospital's coffee shop for more details. To make a financial donation to the auxiliary, visit the hospital gift shop.
Did you know the following about the Colchester Regional Hospital auxiliary?
- Of the 96 members, nine of them are men
- The auxiliary has won the Maritime Philanthropy Award for outstanding volunteer fundraising group
- It gives two $1,000 bursaries to high school students who will go into nursing