Philanthropy Finds Its Way Home

Jack and Marie Van Deventer retired in Canmore a decade ago, but their ties to the community go back further. Both born and raised in Calgary, the couple lived in the city and owned a business in the Bow Valley, where they visited every weekend.

“We always had ties to the community… and to the hospital,” said Jack, who is on his sixth year of a 10-year term as Chair of the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation.

While Jack’s role with the foundation allows him to contribute to the hospital in a very hands-on way, as business owners, he and Marie were regular corporate donors and supported the golf tournament, even while living in Calgary.

“We had a business here, we worked here – it’s time to give back,” said Marie.

When Jack joined the CAHCF board, he didn’t know that just a year into his time there he would become a regular patient at the hospital.

“I’m here for four hours every Tuesday for a magnesium deficit they can’t solve,” said Jack. “So I’ve been a regular patient here for five years.”

Jack receives his treatment in the cancer wing, which was renovated and improved with funding from the hospital foundation.

“When we initially built the cancer wing I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be there in one of those chairs for four hours,” said Jack.

It’s an experience that has driven home just how important the quality of care is for the community: something the couple always valued, but that has now become personal, too.

As Jack’s wife, Marie gets emotional support she doesn’t think is possible in a larger, city hospital where staff interacts with more patients and care is more anonymous.

The hospital staff “look after the patient as a whole and the spouse is part of that,” said Marie. “They also care for me too.”

As the Canmore General Hospital cares for a growing number of patients, the CAHCF works hard to grow its contributions to facilitate programming buy equipment and fund renovations.

“For the next four or five years we have some big plans,” said Jack.

Already, the foundation is in the middle of fundraising $1.5 million to make major improvements to Golden Eagle View, the long-term care facility that hasn’t been updated since the 1980s.

Jack and Marie see opportunity for everyone to get involved in the effort: whether it’s a small, individual donation, a large contribution from a local business, or simply volunteering at the golf tournament in June, there’s a way for everyone to give back.

“This is a community-driven foundation and we need everybody’s support,” said Jack.

Many of the major projects the foundation gets involved in are backed by large donations from business owners. From Jack’s perspective, the best way to encourage any donation is to find a way to connect to individuals.

“There’s usually something that clicks with people,” said Jack, who adds that it’s up to him, the foundation board and the executive director to identify what that thing is when they reach out to companies for contributions.

A decade into retirement, Jack and Marie show no signs of slowing down.

“What drives him is his passion,” said Marie. “We’re both passionate about the hospital and what Jack’s doing on the board.”

Seeing fundraised dollars turn into hospital programs, equipment purchases and renovations fuels their passion further.

“That, too, drives you, you go, ‘ok so what can we take on next?’” said Marie.

With Jack’s remaining four years on the board, he’ll continue to work with the team to raise money for Golden Eagle View, then turn to the next big project: updating the emergency ward.

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Jack and Marie Van Deventer are long-time supporters of the Canmore General Hospital. As a board member of the CAHCF, Jack Van Deventer has brought on many significant foundation donors.

ken Pillipow