Hospital auxiliary celebrates 90th year

The auxiliary to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital held their 90th anniversary celebration last Monday – an occasion marked with the donation of the final $50,000 instalment of a quarter-million-dollar commitment made to the new hospital in 2006.

Hilda Marting

Hilda Marting

The auxiliary to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital held their 90th anniversary celebration last Monday – an occasion marked with the donation of the final $50,000 instalment of a quarter-million-dollar commitment made to the new hospital in 2006.

Past-president of the auxiliary, Ken Baker, began the evening with a recognition of the many past members and the numerous contributions they made.

There was also an awarding of pins to long-serving members. Jean MacFarlane has been with the auxiliary for 53 years, while Hilda Hefner and Nora Deadman (who just celebrated her 105th birthday two weeks ago) have both volunteered for 59 years.

Member Marilyn Goodwin, who has volunteered since 1974, said she was resting in hospital with her second child when she first learned about the auxiliary.

“A friend of my husband came around with a little candy cart and I thought that would be a fun thing to do,” she said, describing just one of the ways the group puts smiles on the faces of patients.

“I really enjoy helping people and there’s always lots to do.”

Volunteers typically put in four hours a week, but Goodwin said she and a few others invested as much as 1,000 hours when the new hospital opened in 2008.

Formed by 30 women in 1921, a year before the first hospital opened, they fundraised, sewed linens and gowns, canned food donations from farmers, and helped feed patients.

When a larger hospital was opened in 1953, the auxiliary donated $3,000 for eight new beds in two wards.

As more financial aid was needed, other ladies’ groups from Bradner, Poplar, Aberdeen and Sumas Village joined together to raise money.

Throughout the years, the auxiliary has raised more than $1 million to donate medical equipment, electrical beds, a wheelchair bus, century tubs, palliative care rooms, and even clothing for discharged patients.

Most fundraising comes from the gift shop, which raises about $80,000 each year. The auxiliary has also held an annual bazaar in December since 1978, bake sales, cruise raffles and even a hospital staff payroll lottery.

The auxiliary has about 100 members at present, but Goodwin said they are always looking for new volunteers.