Anne Marie Smith

Anne Marie Smith

Auxiliary raises big money for Nanaimo hospital

NANAIMO – Volunteer Week is celebrated nationwide from April 12-18.

Nanaimo’s hospital auxiliary has been on a mission to boost care for 115 years, but make no mistake – this isn’t the cake-baking, craft-making ladies’ organization it used to be.

With two thriving retail businesses and 270 members, the Nanaimo Auxiliary to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars annually toward improvements.

In March, the group handed the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation $250,000 for two new operating rooms at the hospital but each year raises close to $750,000.

“People think of the auxiliary as it was many years ago, which was ladies doing crafts and baking cakes and raising some funds, but we have two thriving retail businesses … so it allows us to make quite large contributions to the hospital,” said Phil Robling, the non-profit’s first male president.

His vision is to make the community more aware of who they are and do more to recognize volunteers, who donated more than 49,000 hours last year alone, he said.

The auxiliary began as a ladies organization at the turn of the 20th century, with volunteers helping to make sheets and sew nightgowns. Today, male and female volunteers help with everything from manning an information desk to mentorship of young hospital helpers and the delivery of books and flowers. They also run the auxiliary gift shop and a thrift store, which raises money for major hospital projects and the everyday needs of departments, like wheelchairs, Kleenex and even meal vouchers.

“It all helps to make people’s experience in the hospital a little less traumatic … than it might have been,” he said.

Pamela Mar has been wearing the non-profit’s signature red jacket as a volunteer for 44 years and has published a book on the auxiliary’s history.

Volunteers are an important component of the hospital, delivering care and comfort, and work far harder than most realize, according to Mar, who joined when she first moved to Nanaimo in 1971.

“The real value of the auxiliary, I think, is to be there as helpers to the staff; to fill in spaces that they can’t cope [with] within their day,” she said.

The organization  is looking for more volunteers. For membership information, please call  250-755-7637.

Just Posted

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read