The General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae Legacy

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The General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae wanted to leave a lasting legacy and so they have created an endowment fund to support cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Pictured from left to right are: Valerie Laakkonen, Joanne McMahon, Eileen Baryluk, Leona Barr and Shirley King; all proud School of Nursing Alumnae.
The General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae wanted to leave a lasting legacy and so they have created an endowment fund to support cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Pictured from left to right are: Valerie Laakkonen, Joanne McMahon, Eileen Baryluk, Leona Barr and Shirley King; all proud School of Nursing Alumnae.
The General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae wanted to leave a lasting legacy and so they have created an endowment fund to support cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Pictured from left to right are: Valerie Laakkonen, Joanne McMahon, Eileen Baryluk, Leona Barr and Shirley King; all proud School of Nursing Alumnae.
The General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae wanted to leave a lasting legacy and so they have created an endowment fund to support cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Pictured from left to right are: Valerie Laakkonen, Joanne McMahon, Eileen Baryluk, Leona Barr and Shirley King; all proud School of Nursing Alumnae.

THUNDER BAY – Health – In 2004, the General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae (1909-1970) had a goal in mind – they wanted to raise $25,000 over five years to create an endowment for cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Much to their surprise, they raised the entire amount in just one year.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Shirley King, one of the fundraising committee members and nursing alumna.  “It took a lot of hard work by many hands, but we were thrilled with our success.”   

General Hospital of Port Arthur School of Nursing Alumnae Legacy

The committee had many different fundraising projects, all of which brought in the needed funds. 

“First of all, we sent a letter requesting donations to all of the school’s alumnae,” said King.  “Those letters went all across Canada, the United States, even to Hawaii!  Our alumnae were incredibly generous in getting the endowment off the ground.”

Additionally, in May 2005, they held a Mother’s Day Draw, which brought in over $9,000 for the endowment fund.  The group also hosted fundraising pot luck suppers out at the Silver Islet General Store, which is owned by Lorne and Joan (Class of ’56) Saxburg and had multiple fundraising bridge parties.  Furthermore, they sold balcony seating at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium for symphony performances.

However, one of their most fun (and delicious) initiatives was the sale of homemade apple pies.  “Altogether we sold 760 pies, all over town,” said King.  “Those pies were so popular; we had people asking for more.”

Since the group was so successful in raising funds in their first year, they decided to continue raising money for their endowment.  Over the past nine years, the fund has continued to grow through various donations including those from birthday and anniversary parties.  It currently has over $56,000 – double its initial goal.

“Next year, when we hit the 10 year anniversary of the endowment, we’ll start to use the interest from the fund to support current needs for our cardiac care program at the Health Sciences Centre,” said Terri Hrkac, Director of Major and Planned Giving at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.  “Cardiac disease is prevalent in our region – in fact, 70% of people in Northwestern Ontario have at least one major risk factor for heart disease.  Funds from this endowment will support purchases of state-of-the-art equipment that will ensure our patients have access to the latest advancements in cardiac care.

“It’s important for us, as an alumnae group, to leave a legacy,” said King.  “We recognize that cardiac care is a huge need in our community and we are excited that we will be able to support ongoing innovation in this area.  As nurses, we worked hard to provide empathetic, hands-on care and we want patients to continue to have the best care possible here in Northwestern Ontario. ”

King added, “Everywhere you look, you can see someone who’s benefitted from the care at the Health Sciences Centre.  It’s why healthcare is so important – it truly affects everyone in our community.  As Nurses, we’re very proud that we can contribute, through our endowment, to ongoing cardiac care and we encourage others to do the same.”

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