Without our Auxiliaries, some of our sites would not exist. In their early days, these dedicated volunteers (originally most Auxiliaries were Ladies Aid Societies) raised the funds for hospital furniture, equipment and even food items to keep fledgling hospitals going in several of our communities.
Over the years, historic accounts document that our Auxiliaries were prevailed upon by hospital trustees to provide vital funds to keep the doors open. Not only were Auxilians providing day-to-day support in the hospital, they were influential arbiters of local society. The Autumn Ball or Annual Fair was a must-attend event. In their heyday during the 1940s and 50s, Junior Auxiliaries and Branch Auxiliaries formed to provide hospital support, organize social and fundraising events, and form knitting and sewing circles. However, as more women began working outside the home, the membership began to decline. Today, the mainstays of our Auxiliaries are those no longer working or raising young children.
Another fairly recent evolution is the addition of men to the formerly women-only Auxiliaries. Many of our Auxiliaries have changed their bylaws to reflect this, and men are contributing to the work of the Auxiliaries.
The following provides a snapshot of the hard work and initiatives of our five Auxiliaries.
The Fort Erie Site Auxiliary marked its 80th anniversary in 2015.
Since its formation they have raised over 1.3 million dollars to purchase equipment and furnishings for the benefit of patients at the Fort Erie Site. One of their major contributions was the equipping of the Mammography Unit. They provide bursaries for a maximum of seven students who are entering first-year courses in health-related studies.
They are affiliated with the Hospital Auxiliary Association of Ontario. Their goal is "to bring comfort and hope to all who are in distress of mind or body" whether they be patients, family or just simply visitors, while at the same time raising money to enhance patient care and comfort.
The Fort Erie Site Auxiliary operates a Tuck Shop – where they serve freshly made sandwiches, what has been proclaimed to be “some of the best tasting coffee in Fort Erie” candy and ice cream treats. They have a wide range of toiletries, greeting cards, floral arrangements and wonderfully hand-knit baby items including sweater sets, bonnets, booties, blankets. Their gift buyers ensure our shelves are well stocked with reasonably priced items.
H.E.L.P.P. (Hospital Equipment Lottery Purchase Program) ticket sales help to raising funds, as does the annual bazaar. Some of the Auxilians interact with long-term care patients while others act of greeters in the Urgent Care Centre, a program we are working on expanding.
The women’s hospital Auxiliary dates back the early years of the 1900s, when the Jepson Street hospital opened to serve Niagara Falls residents.
Over the years, fundraising efforts gained momentum and in 1960 the Auxiliary began larger projects for the Niagara Falls Site, which had opened on Portage Road. Their organizational skills and efforts, with the help of the community, make our fundraising projects a success.
Since 1982, the Auxilians have raised over 3 million dollars for equipment needs at Greater Niagara General. In 2015, a donation of $125,000 was made for an operating room table and $75,000 for a cell counter. Our Auxiliary continues to plan more fundraisers, such as a jewelry sale, book sale, golf tournament and tag day. We have a very successful Gift Shop operating continuously.
The Port Colborne Site Auxiliary was formed the in the late 1940s. During the two-day opening of the hospital in 1951, over 10,000 people visited the new facilities and the Auxiliary served tea to about 3,600 people.
This hard-working group is always looking for ways to raise money for the Port Colborne Site. In addition to running the Gift Shop, some projects have been Bazaar and Spring Yard Sales. To date, contributions have totaled over $400,000 for the Port Colborne Site.
President of the Auxiliary, says, "Our Auxiliary is closely associated with the day-to-day work in the hospital – it is important to keep our staff happy and provide them with much-needed equipment to make their jobs easier and give them more time to spend with the patients. It is nice to hear laughter in the halls and see smiles from the patients. Health care is very important to our aging community and we must ensure that we do all we can to make our community and residents safe and healthy."
The St. Catharines Site Auxiliary was formed in 1865 and has the distinction of being one of the oldest auxiliaries in Canada. In the early days, not only did Auxilians can fruit for the hospital kitchen, but they also assisted in identifying patients in St. Catharines who were in need of hospital care, but could not afford it.
Today, the Auxiliary’s main role is fundraising activities for the purchase of hospital equipment at the St. Catharines Site. Auxiliary members operate the gift shop, bingo nights, vendor program, raffles, knitting and sewing programs, along with many other seasonal events. In March 2016, the Auxiliary fulfilled its pledge of $1.2 million to the “It’s Our Time Campaign,” raising the total funds donated to our hospital over the years to more than $7.5 million. Hospital equipment recently funded includes five chemotherapy chairs for the Walker Family Cancer Centre and Family Quiet Rooms in the Medical Cardiac and the Palliative Care Unit.
In addition to raising funds, you will find Auxiliary members working in hospital volunteer programs such as the Cancer Clinic, the Emergency Department and the ICU Auxiliary members are committed to serving our hospital and wear their smocks with pride.
Formed in 1945, the Auxiliary dedicates it efforts to fundraising in support of the Welland Site. Over the years, the Auxiliary has increased the amount of support substantially, and completed a $750,000 pledge to renovate the ICU. The Auxiliary was the lead donor of $1 million towards the permanent Dialysis Unit which was named Ladies Auxiliary Dialysis Unit at the Welland Site. Fundraising is accomplished through the highly-successful gift shop and Nevada ticket sales.
Sharon Connelly, President Welland Site Auxiliary, says, "Our Auxiliary depends on the Gift Shop to raise funds, and when we’re working there, we really get to know the hospital staff. Our members and our volunteers have made a pledge of $500,000 over the next five years for the new Endoscopy Unit. The first payment was made in April 2016. Without the community’s support, we wouldn’t have the services and equipment that we depend on available in our hospital today."