Canmore Hospital Ladies Auxiliary Celebrates 40 Years

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CANMORE – When it comes to anniversaries in life – 40 years is a truly remarkable amount of time.

For a married couple, 40 years is a ruby anniversary to represent the eternal inner flame, but for the Canmore Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, celebrating four decades of volunteering in the community was marked by tea cups, cakes and sandwiches on April 12.

But for the CHLA, 40 years also marked a significant fundraising milestone for the non-profit organization – raising $1 million for the hospital.

Director of facility care at the Canmore Hospital Barb Shellian compared the tenure of the auxiliary and its members to the idea of relentless incrementalism – of continuing to find ways to reach their goal of raising money for the hospital as a fundamental part of the community.

For all their hard work, fundraising activities, and dedication, Shellian said even the words “thank you” fall short on such a milestone occasion.

“Lots of times when you say thank you, you think is there another word I can use or is there something else I can say,” she said. “Because it doesn’t really seem appropriate or big enough just to say thank you to the Ladies Auxiliary for all of the things they have done for 40 years and raising $1 million.”

Four decades of fundraising for the needs of the hospital began in 1978 when the hospital was located on the other side of town – then called Mineside – at the top of what is now referred to as Hospital Hill on Three Sisters Drive. The very first item purchased was a television set and more recently they purchased a fetal heart monitor, wall-mounted ophthalmoscopes, IV stands and carts and a diagnostic hysteroscope to name just a few.

They have held fashion shows, barbecues, last year hosted a drag show with Miss Ellen Q, held raffles for quilts and other prizes. They run the hospital tuck shop and each year host the beef on a bun at the Miners Day event at the Civic Centre. They are at the hospital every Christmas Day with Santa Claus and presents for patients and have welcomed every single new years baby to the community as well.

“The money that they raise is all very much appreciated and you can’t look around this hospital without finding something that the Ladies Auxiliary purchased, but it is the heart that they put into it and the attitude that they have,” Shellian said.

Rick Balharry, Chief of Medical Staff at the hospital, remarked on how the work of the auxiliary has benefited the entire community.

“We thank the auxiliary very much for all the things we have not been able to afford,” Balharry said.

Mayor John Borrowman recognized the dedication to the community of the organization at the annual Mayor’s Awards for Volunteer Excellence. The CHLA was nominated in the not-for-profit category and received the award in recognition of the contributions they have made.

“This is really a community facility and the Ladies Auxiliary bring that daily stamp of community to the hospital,” Borrowman said. “Certainly the work that the Ladies Auxiliary have done in all the fundraising it blows me away what has been provided to the hospital and makes the hospital that much more able to meet the demand of our community.”

This year the CHLA voted to merge with the Canmore and Area Hospital Foundation as a way to simplify its boards responsibilities. The auxiliary remains as a separate group that would continue its endeavours to raise funds for the hospital, but the money now flows through the foundation as a charitable organization.

Chair Jack Van Deventer said it is a honour to include the organization under the foundation’s umbrella.

“On behalf of the hospital foundation, I have the honour of thanking the ladies for a lot of heavy lifting over many years and $1 million is a lot of money especially over 40 years,” he said.

For the CHLA, it has been fundamental that all funds raised at its events goes to purchasing needed equipment for the hospital.

Their next event is this Friday (April 20) at Cornerstone Theatre featuring Calgary’s Esoteric Bazaar’s burlesque stage show. In addition to baked goods for sale homemade by the ladies themselves, there is a cash bar, 50/50, door prizes. Tickets are $25 and available at Café Books or at the door.

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