115 Years: A Proud Legacy of Health Care Volunteering
2017 marks the 115th anniversary of the Volunteer Association to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC).
April 29, 2017
How It All Began
In 1902, the “Ladies Aid to McKellar Hospital” was organized. The first membership drive and a bazaar, both in 1903, resulted in a $1500 donation to the hospital board. In June 1968, the name changed to “The Auxiliary to McKellar General Hospital”. This was a continuance of the McKellar General Hospital Ladies Auxiliary and the Fort William Relief Society (established in 1893, in response to a group of immigrants who had been exposed to smallpox, being abandoned by the CPR in Fort William). The Ladies Auxiliary assisted hospitals to provide the best possible patient care, and the original mandate was to raise money for the hospital. Over the years it evolved into a hospital volunteer service.
The “Ladies Aid of Port Arthur Railway, Marine and General Hospital” was established in 1904, and by 1905 there were 270 paid memberships. The Ladies Aid “came into being as a money-making society…. women with one desire in common…to raise money to build, equip and maintain a general hospital”. Throughout 1906, the ladies were able to raise $3,000 towards the purchase of a lot at the corner of Dawson and Algoma St. and in 1909 the hospital finally opened. In 1918, the name of the hospital was changed to Port Arthur General Hospital and the organization became known as the “Ladies Auxiliary” with a mandate “to assist the hospital in every possible way, in the best interest of the patient”.
In February 2004 when TBRHSC opened, members of the two auxiliaries came together and became the Volunteer Association to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
Today, the Volunteer Association raises funds mainly through Seasons Gift Shop. Funds have also been raised through Quilt Raffles, 50/50 Draws, Strawberry Socials, Sweet Chocolate Thursday Bake Sales, and the popular Marathon Bridge Program. All monies raised are used to help purchase vital medical equipment for the hospital.
The Volunteer Association also operates the Patient Clothing Cupboard to provide clothes for patients in need upon discharge. They also award bursaries to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University, Confederation College, as well as to Student Volunteers and Nurses at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
The Volunteer Association to TBRHSC has been instrumental in health care in Thunder Bay for 115 years. Through active participation in fundraising and volunteer service, this dedicated group of volunteers continues to make a significant impact on Patient and Family Centered Care.