Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health advisories and restrictions, the Richmond Hospital/Healthcare Auxiliary’s army of volunteers remains strong.
The Auxiliary’s core of volunteers stands at around 400 people - roughly 300 at Richmond Hospital, and another 100+ at the always bustling Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store in Steveston.
“The Auxiliary was created in the early 1960s by groups of women to support fundraising initiatives and build the Richmond Hospital, which officially opened in 1966,” says Ursula Van Duin, President of the Auxiliary.
Richmond residents have always valued their Hospital and remain committed to the cause as the Hospital embarks on a future expansion.
Today, the Auxiliary has shifted its approach from holding folksy fundraisers and socials, while still maintaining the Hospital’s wellbeing at the forefront.
“We are 100 per cent volunteer-run, and all of the funds we raise go towards the Hospital and two related care homes, Lions Manor and Minoru Residence,” Van Duin says.
To date, the Auxiliary has donated more than $8 million to enhance healthcare in Richmond.
Through an annual grant, some of the funds raised have helped to purchase specialized medical equipment at the Hospital.
“We also help fund patient care programs both in the Hospital and the nursing homes, such as music therapy and recreation, two buses for the nursing homes, installation of a dental clinic in Minoru Residence and we also we provide bursaries to students in the second year of health-related studies annually,” Van Duin says.
So, what makes all of that possible?
At the heart of the Auxiliary’s success are the “red coat,” volunteers who give an average of 22,000 hours of their time annually. “About 90 per cent of volunteers in the Thrift Store are retired women and men. In the Hospital, volunteers work as guides, operate the Lottery Booth and Gift Shop, assist in the Maternity area and much more. Volunteering allows them to make a positive impact in the community while providing camaraderie” Van Duin says.
Funds raised come primarily from sales at the Thrift Store in Steveston, which under normal years can achieve revenue of around $500,000.
“That’s quite a lot, but you have to remember it represents a lot of work because the sales are small. However, the store is very popular, and our customers know that they can get a good deal on gently used goods and can clothe a family for very little money”, Van Duin says.
"Other revenue comes from the operation of our Gift Shop, Marketplace and Lottery Booth in the Hospital."
For more information about the Richmond Hospital Healthcare Auxiliary and how you can lend a hand, visit their website at rhhaux.ca.