Southern Alberta Newspapers
Quite often, it’s the little things that mean the most.
Hospital auxiliaries across the province have always worked tirelessly to pick up the slack where the health-care system is lacking, and decades ago when they first began, it often involved raising money for much needed equipment not provided by Alberta Health. But when the province introduced health foundations in 1996, the heavy lifting for those purchases was no longer needed.
Instead of fading away, groups like Ladies Auxiliary of Bow Island simply shifted their efforts to another area of need — personal care and attention.
“We spend a lot of time going to visit at the hospital,” says longtime auxiliary member Char Brocklesby. “A lot of our volunteer work is there, going to read or play cards, or just to visit with people.”
On top of visiting the care centres to simply spend time with patients and residents on a regular basis, the group’s 15 volunteer members throw birthday parties at long-term care facilities throughout the year, as well as ensuring sympathy cards are delivered when needed.
They also throw Christmas parties with gifts for each resident, festive carol singing and even a visit from Santa. For those living on their own, the auxiliary also has its annual Cookie Run.
“We put together cookies and different things — candies, an orange — in a container, wrap it up with a Christmas card and deliver them around town.”
They also drop off large gift baskets of a similar nature at the seniors’ apartment complexes, where residents can share various Holiday treats.
The group takes a winter break following Christmas each year, picking operations back up in March, when they hold internal elections and plan for the upcoming year.
Speaking of winter, the group also has a tuck cupboard, where you can donate homemade items such as toques, mittens, scarves, quilts and more, which are then purchased by others who need them.
Another important focus for the Ladies Auxiliary is getting folks where they need to go. A lot of seniors have medical appointments they otherwise couldn’t attend, so volunteers are there to literally bridge that gap.
“We have a list of people that will take clients to medical appointments in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat or Calgary,” Brocklesby says. “A lot of (people) don’t want to drive that distance, so we take them, wait while they have their appointment and then bring them back.”
The auxiliary gives a quiet nod to these generous volunteers with a Christmas card and small gift, as these drivers aren’t looking for fanfare, just a chance to help someone who needs it.
The Ladies Auxiliary of Bow Island has also set its sights on the younger generation, creating a scholarship fund in honour of some its past members. The fund provides annual scholarships for students entering the field of medicine.
Part of taking care of those in their golden years is cultivating and educating young minds, so they can grow to be top-notch caregivers themselves.
Funding for the scholarships is raised through an annual raffle, which this year began with ticket sales in July. And the lucky winners will be announced on Sept. 25 at the Ladies Auxiliary annual Meat Pie Luncheon.
The raffle raised roughly $800 in its inaugural year and has grown since.
“This is our fourth (raffle) and so no we are able to do at least two or three scholarships a year at $500 each.”
Brocklesby has been in charge of the luncheon for several years now and says, while it’s a lot of work to pull off, the flagship event not only goes a long way to keeping the auxiliary going, it is simply a blast to be part of.
“It just runs like clockwork now,” she said. “I really love this (event), we get a lot of people coming out to it.”
The lunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Golden Age Centre, with tickets at $12 each. Proceeds from the luncheon go to keeping the Ladies Auxiliary going, allowing them to continue helping people with the little things.