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Auxiliary to Abbotsford Regional Hospital celebrates 100 years

Members operate gift shop and raise money for equipment and programs
Carol Bridger is a 38-year member of the Auxiliary to Abbotsford Regional Hospital and participates in the knitting group. She is known as the “Monkey Bootie Lady.” The auxiliary celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. (Submitted photo)

The auxiliary to Abbotsford Regional Hospital is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The organization began in 1921, a full year before the Abbotsford Cottage Hospital opened it doors.

The auxiliary held its first bazaar in December 1921, raising more than $1,400. Members then went on to prepare and sell canned goods and homemade food as their main fundraisers, along with whist drives and tag days.

The auxiliary soon grew to 80 members and had two branches – the juniors and seniors.

In 1941, health regulations prohibited them from selling canned foods, and members turns to raising funds through a “bargain centre.”

The juniors supplied incubators and bassinets to the hospital.

The new MSA Hospital opened in 1953, and the auxiliary donated $3,000 towards new equipment. The seniors and juniors merged, and they presented a cheque of almost $15,000 to the new hospital.

The group, which then became known as the MSA Hospital Auxiliary, opened their first gift shop in the hospital lobby in 1973.

Five years later, the members purchased a $21,000 wheelchair in partnership with the MSA, Bradner and Aberdeen auxiliaries.

By 1983, more than $200,000 had been donated to the hospital, and that number doubled by 1991.

The auxiliary expanded to include patient care and comfort by distributing reading material to patients, visiting with extended-care patients, and decorating for the holidays.

In June 2001, auxiliary members were honoured by the Fraser Valley Health Region for their longstanding service, including Frances Pengaly-Wilson (60 years), Mary Trimnell (52 years), Nora Deadman and Hilda Heppner (49 years).

Among the equipment the organization donated from 1990 to 2015 were a $20,000 tub, almost $453,000 for laparoscopic equipment for the operating room, and almost $377,000 for a fetal monitor, portable ultrasound and defibrillator.

The new Abbotsford Regional Hospital opened in 2008, and the auxiliary donated $250,000 from 2009 to 2011.

The group underwent another name change, becoming the Auxiliary to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

RELATED: Members of Abbotsford hospital auxiliary recognized for service

They continue to operate the gift shop, generating funds for equipment and programs for the hospital, as well as the Cottage/Worthington Pavilion.

Members also raise money through bake sales, raffles and garage sales, and they volunteer in various departments of the hospital, including emergency, breast health, surgical day care, and recreational programs at the pavilion.

Their resource depot provides clothing, footwear and personal hygiene kits to emergency patients, and the ICU coffee program supplies coffee, tea and cookies for visitors to the intensive care and coronary care units. The auxiliary also provides track suits for forensic nursing services for victims of assault or abuse.

As well, there are volunteers who supply knitted baby sets, booties and blankets, which are then sold in the gift shop.

The auxiliary also offers a yearly $1,000 bursary to students following a medical career and who volunteer in one or more of the programs.

The year 2016 was momentous for the auxiliary, as $1 million had been given in donations for hospital equipment and programs, dating back to 1921. A website and Facebook page were launched, and volunteers began wearing black vests instead of the familiar blue smocks.

The organization raised almost another $800,000 from 2016-20, and last year the 80 members – including three life-time members – contributed 8,351 volunteer hours. That number was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The auxiliary always welcomes new members, with the goal of continuing for at least the next 100 years.

Visit for “Auxiliary to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital” on Facebook for more information.

Lorna Cummings (left) is a 21-year member of the Auxiliary to Abbotsford Regional Hospital and is one of the knitters. Joan Pike is a 19-year member and the forensic unit convenor. The auxiliary is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford News Staff

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