Canmore Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary Gains a Partner in Merger with CAHCF

When the Canmore Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary was founded 39 years ago, the Bow Valley was a much smaller community. The auxiliary started to fill in the gaps of the growing needs of the hospital. On April 1, 2017, the auxiliary started a new chapter after it officially merged with the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation.  

For Ladies’ Auxiliary executive committee member Pat Grayling, the merger is an exciting move that will bring more capacity and ensure a long life for the auxiliary.  

“We were finding it more and more difficult to get people who were prepared to accept the responsibility of being president, secretary and treasurer, which according to our bylaws we couldn’t operate as an auxiliary without those positions filled,” said Grayling, who has volunteered with the auxiliary since she moved to the Bow Valley from Australia 25 years ago.  

While the auxiliary struggled to find new executive members every three years, Grayling had heard about other auxiliaries joining hospital foundations in rural communities. With that in mind, she approached Barb Shellian, Director of Rural Health, who founded the Canmore Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary 39 years ago. With Shellian’s support and excitement, the auxiliary floated the idea with the hospital foundation, where there were no doubts about the mutual benefits of a merger.  

Renate Grob, an auxiliary volunteer of 20 years, said it’s a relief to have a more secure future for the organization to continue its volunteer work and presence in the community.  

“We bring a face to the foundation,” said Grob.  

“We need a good hospital,” said Grob. “I raised two children in Canmore and it was always important to me and I was so blessed to have such a great hospital and my goal was to make it a better place for doctors and nurses to work in because if they have a really good place to work, we get really good care.” 

In joining the CAHCF, the Canmore Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary lost its own charitable status and with it, the responsibility of running its own administration and finances, which comes as a relief to Grob and Grayling. The CAHCF will cover those responsibilities at no cost to the auxiliary, said the foundation’s executive director, Soulafa Al-Abbasi.  

“The Bow Valley has a lot of generous donors, but there’s also a lot of organizations out there making a lot of asks for different causes,” said Al-Abbasi.  

In merging, Al-Abbasi saw a marriage of two complementary groups. The auxiliary brings its recognition in the community along with its larger volunteer base of two dozen and up to 40 people. The CAHCF has its strong board, open accounting and strategic vision to grow and evolve with the Bow Valley community, soliciting larger philanthropic and corporate donations that, in turn, translate to large-scale renovations, programs and purchases for the Canmore General Hospital.  

Though the auxiliary is now part of the foundation, the CAHCF confirmed that the auxiliary maintains its autonomy: it has its own restricted account and makes its own decisions on how to spend its money. Historically, the auxiliary makes two equipment purchases a year – under the umbrella of the CAHCF, it will continue to do so.  

Ultimately, the auxiliary will continue to operate as it did. Including the personal touches the auxiliary has always valued, like sending each donor a hand written thank you note.  

 “That’s really old fashioned, but that’s who we are,” said Grob. 

Now, without the stress of finding new members to take on the volunteer roles of treasurer, secretary and president, the auxiliary will focus on its most pressing goal: reaching the $1 million donation mark by its fortieth year.  

Donations to the auxiliary will now be made out to the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation, with Canmore Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary (CHLA) written into the memo section of the cheque. 


Ladies' Auxiliary members Pat Grayling (left) and Renate Grob (right) along with CAHCF Executive Director Soulafa Al-Abbasi (centre), celebrate joining forces to continue to raise money for the Canmore General Hospital.

ken Pillipow