Their blue smocks are their giveaway.
The public sees the folks in blue smocks sorting donated goods at Penny Pincher Thrift Store, running the gift shop at Langley Memorial Hospital, answering questions at the hospital reception desk, or distributing sneeze pads to patients who’ve had tummy surgery.
Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary members are a volunteer army of about 250 people, mostly women, who continue to put the care in health care.
“In 2021 we did approximately 16,200 recorded volunteer hours,” said auxiliary president Barbara Stewart. “To date for 2022, we have done 15,000 hours.”
If a patient ends up in hospital due to an emergency, the auxiliary can provide a comfort kit (toothbrush, tooth paste, shampoo, combs and shaving gear). Pediatric patients are given themed pillowcases to make their hospital stay less scary. The auxiliary will also provide clothing for patients if needed when they are discharged from the emergency department.
The work of auxiliary knitters can be found in the gift shop – baby clothes, gift sets, even finger puppets.
Now it’s time for the community to do something for the auxiliary – help it mark a milestone. The public is invited to the 75th anniversary of the volunteer organization at a celebration at the thrift store on Saturday, July 9. There’s a brief ceremony at 1 p.m. and the public is being offered cake and refreshments.
On July 20, there’s an anniversary celebration at the hospital for staff and visitors, and the auxiliary will host a volunteer appreciation event in September.
There are older hospital auxiliaries in the province but Langley’s attracted dedicated members, none of whom are paid.
“Langley is probably in the middle of the pack as they say compared to other auxiliaries in the province, age wise,” she said.
Just since 1994, the local auxiliary has donated about $11 million to the hospital.
The auxiliary put in $1.5 million towards the new emergency department campaign. The ER has been open for just over a year, and the auxiliary isn’t resting on its laurels.
“We have done our June pledge meeting where we pledged to purchase $155,300 in new equipment for the hospital,” Stewart added.
The money, raised mainly through the thrift store, is just one of the group’s efforts to help the community. The society, which is a registered charity, also receives donations in memory of loved ones, and bequests from estates.
But the group doesn’t only focus on raising funds.
“We provide gifts to residence in the LTC [long-term care] sites at the hospital each Christmas as well as gifts for patients in the hospital at Christmas,” she explained. “We give out four scholarships each year.”
There’s the Volunteen scholarship, another in memory of Marion Ward to provide nurse training upgrades. The Edith Rose scholarship is for health-care workers. A fourth $1,000 scholarship goes to a Langley School District student going into the medical field.
As for the auxiliary, it will pause to honour its long history in this milestone year while remaining focused on the future.
“We are always looking for new volunteers,” Stewart said. “We recognize their years of service at our AGM. We are holding a celebration luncheon in September for our members.”
The group tries to spread the word about its work in various ways.
“We reach out on social media, the Langley Volunteer Bureau,” she explained.
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