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Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre Auxiliary celebrates 70th anniversary

Anniversary Garage Sale being held June 23
Melda Bragg, left, and Anita Hemeyer. (Photo submitted)

This June, the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre Auxiliary is celebrating 73 years of history and accomplishments in fulfilling its motto “patient comfort and care” since 1950. Because of COVID, our celebration had to be cancelled in 2020 so we now want to recognize the magnificent volunteer efforts of all who have been a part of the auxiliary over the years.

Miss Morell, the first matron of the hospital, organized the first meeting of the Ponoka General Hospital Auxiliary on April 4, 1950, under the direction of the Mr. E. Finkle.

Since its inception, the auxiliary has raised funds through volunteer hours to improve the hospital and its patients’ health and well-being. They began selling baby sweaters, bonnets, booties and layettes from a window display. They raised funds by selling items from the baby cupboard and small canteen. They went to the units with book carts and canteen items.

They also looked after the rental of patient TVs and assisted at blood donor clinics and bingos. The small group of women kept on going, expanding their efforts to raise more funds with numerous bake sales, teas and raffles. They decorated floats for the Stampede parade, visited patients in the hospital and later supported the Candy Striper program when it started in 1968.The annual Florence Nightingale Tea, to honour the nursing profession, was also on their agenda and is still an annual event to this day.

The last baby born in the old General Hospital was Colton Blake Zaytsoff on March 20, 1987.

On Sept. 9, 1979, the auxiliary became a registered charity.

On May 1, 1987, the new hospital officially opened. The gift shop also opened for business in the foyer. The current expanded gift shop was set up in 2007, and in 2009, the auxiliary became incorporated under the Society Act.

The auxiliary has raised over $500,000 for the betterment of the hospital. The proceeds come from the sales in the gift shop, operating two vending machines, owning the ATM machine in the lobby, working casinos, selling pull tickets and donations received.

In 2019, auxiliary fundraising paid for patio plants, 25 dining chairs, entertainment for Long Term Care (LTC) a wheel chair, a stretcher for the procedural room, two Holter monitors, a vital signs monitor for the lab, a Billi blanket light metre for the maternity ward, physio bed for home care, a cardiac monitor, a defibrillator for emergency, two Sleepeeze chairs and a gastroscope for endoscopy. Later purchases have been a TV set for LTC and four patient transport wheel chairs. Beautiful plants have been distributed to the patients a couple of times a year as well.

During the year, the auxiliary participates in several fundraising events including the annual Christmas in November Sale, and the Festival of Trees gift shop.

Today, the auxiliary has a membership of approximately 50 volunteers. The Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre Auxiliary is always looking for new members. It needs 34 members just to work in the gift shop monthly, including five individuals just to order stock and fill the vending machine twice weekly. Three-to-four members purchase and price items for the gift shop. The ATM also needs attention at least twice a month.

The commitment is minimal with one monthly meeting and working one or two three-hour shifts a month at the gift shop. A committee of about six people are working together on the anniversary event. Contact any member for further information about how to become involved.

To showcase the activities of the auxiliary and to honour volunteers, a souvenir booklet has been printed and will be available at the Gift Shop and at the Anniversary Garage Sale.

As a recognition of the many years of the auxiliary, we are planning a 70th-plus years Anniversary Celebration in the form of a large garage sale. The Gift Shop will have their items on sale — some up to 70 per cent off. All monies raised will continue to be donated for vital services and equipment that the hospital requires to improve its patients’ health and well-being.

The Anniversary Garage Sale will be held outdoors on June 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.

The 2023 membership list:

Ruth Airey

Marg Asbaugh

Melda Bragg

Gloria Bruggencate

Paddy Calon

Sylvia Corkery

Judy Crawford

Annette Dodds

Jan Edwards

Maxine Fecho

Margarie Feil

Marilyn Garolner

Tammy Gartner

Elaine Gill

Shirley Gill

Lyda Greer

Leigh Halland

Jo Harbin

Anita Hemeyer

Freida Hoffman

Find Hoffman

Cheryl Hunt

Barb Johnston

Judy Jones

Lynn Lawrence

Carolyn Macaulay

Joyce Mackenzie

Maureen Matejka

Betty McMillan

Marie McWade

Fairlie Miller-Coates

Joanne Palechek

Shirley Paul

Peggy Peterson

Irene Rauschs

Val Salvisberg

Val Schabert

Shelley Sebry

Lois Stang

Pat Stewart

Hilary Stiles

Ski Thompson

Connie Tyson

Chris Ungstad

Dorothy Ungstad

Joanne Volk

June Waknuk

- Submitted by the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre Auxiliary

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I'm a reporter for Ponoka News and have lived in Ponoka since 2015.
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