Three members honoured with Provincial Life Memberships

LITTLE CURRENT—Members of the Little Current Hospital Auxiliary, Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) board members and special guests gathered last Thursday evening to celebrate the auxiliary’s 70th anniversary.

Following dinner, auxiliary president and master of ceremonies for the evening Dave Sylvester welcomed Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario (HAAO) President Elen MacMillian who presented the Provincial Life Membership Pins, and Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, who presented each recipient with certificates of congratulations.

“Sue Lafreniere is a valued member of the Manitoulin Health Centre Auxiliary,” said Mr. Sylvester of the first Provincial Life Membership recipient. “She joined our auxiliary in 2000 and has been an active member ever since. During her years of service, Sue has organized our annual fall bake and harvest sale. In the spring, she makes all the calls and invitations for our annual casserole dinner. She is always willing to assist in all of our auxiliary activities and fundraising efforts.”

“She has been our auxiliary secretary since 2003, recording the minutes of our monthly business meetings and our annual general meeting,” Mr. Sylvester continued. “Sue received an outstanding service award in 2009. She is a most valued member of our auxiliary and is deserving of this Provincial Life Membership Award.”

Carmelita Genereux was also a Provincial Life Membership recipient, however she was unable to attend the celebration due to health reasons. Her son Robert accepted the pin and certificate on her behalf.

“Carmelita joined the auxiliary in 2003,” began Mr. Sylvester. “Shortly thereafter, she accepted the position of membership chair which she held for seven years. Whatever the event, Carmelita has volunteered her time and talents. She currently helps out with the sale of raffle tickets when needed, contributes to all of the auxiliary annual events and works two days a week at the tuck shop selling HELLP lottery tickets and snacks.”

“Carmelita and her late husband Lawrence were quite the team, promoting the auxiliary and selling auxiliary memberships,” noted Mr. Sylvester. “The community expected to see them out each year selling fundraising raffle tickets. Unfortunately, Lawrence passed away in 2010. HAAO recognized our  nomination and Lawrence’s volunteerism and awarded him posthumous recognition in 2011 on the In-Memorial Honour Roll. In 2008, Carmelita and Lawrence were awarded the one and only ‘Zip’ award for zeal, insistence and persuasion. Carmelita has made many friends over the years within the auxiliary and the community with her smile and cheerful attitude.”

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes presents Little Current Hospital Auxiliary President Dave Sylvester with a certificate recognizing the auxiliary’s 70th anniversary. photos by Robin Burridge
Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes presents Little Current Hospital Auxiliary President Dave Sylvester with a certificate recognizing the auxiliary’s 70th anniversary.
photos by Robin Burridge

Laila Kiviaho was the final auxiliary member to be recognized with a life membership.

“Laila joined the auxiliary in 2001 and has been an active member ever since,” said Mr. Sylvester. “Laila served as president from 2003-2011 and served as vice president in 2002. She wears many hats—volunteering at the tuck shop one day per week selling HELLP lottery tickets and snacks and delivers snacks and magazines to the patients and staff. She also sews the cloth bags necessary for the personal care products that she purchases and puts together for the patients.”

“She helped organize the fundraising effort to purchase the 18 TVs that allow the patients to watch TV at no charge and purchases and distributes the TV earphone headsets for the patients,” added Mr. Sylvester. “As well, she writes a monthly newsletter for The Expositor and coordinates publicity with up-to-date news on the auxiliary activities. Laila also organizes a monthly book sale out of our hospital cafeteria in spring and fall and, during the summer months, at the local farmers’ market. We can also add historian and archives coordinator to Laila’s many titles—she keeps our photo, news and history albums up to date. She lead the auxiliary over a three year period from 2009 to 2011, raising $55,000 with many fundraising activities to assist in the MHC’s $650,000 fundraising campaign for new hospital equipment. Thank you for your great work and dedication, Laila.”

When she received her award, Ms. Kiviaho commented that being part of the auxiliary is “all about team work” and thanked her fellow members for all the hard work they do.

“This is a proud moment, giving out Provincial Lifetime Membership pins,” said HAAO President Ms. MacMillan. “To have individuals like you from my own region is a real honour. Congratulations on these achievements and your 70th anniversary.”

Past Regional Chair Leila Thureson of Mindemoya presented Mr. Sylvester with a certificate commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Little Current auxiliary.

MP Hughes also presented Mr. Sylvester with a certificate marking the occasion on behalf of Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha.

“You are an amazing group and you have raised the bar so much for fundraising I want you on my next election,” joked Ms. Hughes. “Mike Mantha sends his regrets for not being able to be here, but we both want to extend our congratulations on reaching this impressive milestone. You are an extremely important organization, not only to the hospital but to the community as a whole. Best wishes for a great celebration.”

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin also extended his congratulations to the auxiliary, presenting a certificate on behalf of the town and council.

Mr. Sylvester with Provincial Life Membership recipients  Sue Lafreniere, Robert Genereux (accepting the award on behalf his mother Carmelita Genereux) and Laila Kiviaho with Ms.  Hughes.
Mr. Sylvester with Provincial Life Membership recipients
Sue Lafreniere, Robert Genereux (accepting the award on behalf his mother Carmelita Genereux) and Laila Kiviaho with Ms.

“Seventy years is hard to fathom for any volunteer organization,” said Mayor MacNevin. “You are a hard-working group of volunteers. I’ve learned over the years that you can seem nice at first, but give you a card table and you’re like pit bulls. I make sure I never go to the grocery store with without cash for raffle tickets. But seriously, I know how hard you work—it’s amazing. I would also like to extend special congratulations to Sue, Carmen and Laila. Our council is so proud of the work our volunteers like you do. Congratulations.”

MHC CEO Derek Graham shared how fortunate the hospital has been to have the auxiliary as a partner over the years and reflected on the huge impact by not only the current auxiliary but by auxiliary members over the years.

Mr. Sylvester recognized the past Provincial Life Members that were present for the celebration including Donna Corbiere, Debbie Heise, Ursula Paxton, Marilee Hore, June McConnell, Madeleine Charlton, Jean Cunningham and Alice Monkhouse.

He also recognized past presidents Laila Kiviaho, Dianne Musgrove, Elaine Huisser, Noreen Parkinson, Maxine Ferguson and Diane McCullough.

Debbie Heise, Ursula Paxton, Madeleine Charlton and Jean Cunningham were recognized as 40-year members, while Donna Corbiere, Alice Monkhouse and Marilee Hore were honoured as 50-year members.

Outstanding Service Pins were presented to  Glorea Myronuk, June McConnell, Carole Labelle, Sharon Bentley, Ted Musgrove, Doug Hore, Maurice Labelle, Heather Hutchinson and Laila Kiviaho.

Both Mayor MacNevin and Mr. Sylvester took a moment to recognize the passing of long time auxiliary member Wayne Orr.

“Wayne was instrumental in helping to raise funds and organize the purchase and installation of the TVs that the patients are enjoying to this day,” said Mr. Sylvester. “He will be greatly missed from our auxiliary and community.”

Mr. Sylvester concluded the evening by providing the group with a history of the Little Current Hospital Auxiliary.

“The first minutes we have are from November 1948,” said Mr. Sylvester. “It seems that they had a balance of $548 and they made a motion to pay $500 towards the purchase of the new resuscitation and gas oxygen machine.”

“There was a sewing convener,” he continued. “She reported on the quantities of sheets, towel and surgical sheets that had been made during the year. In December of 1958 the Sisters of the hospital (then St. Joseph’s Hospital) asked if some of the auxiliary members would assist in the mending over several afternoons. In March of 1950 the late Sarah Nickeloff was asked to dress as a clown and sell balloons. Our own Barbara Lawrence dressed up as Miss Hawberry 60 years later when we hosted the North Central Region Conference in 2010. In 1970, the Nursing Sisters discussed with the auxiliary how to further assist the patients. They helped with letter writing, reading to the patients, setting patients’ hair and helping with crafts.”

“The Expositor covered the Auxiliary’s 35th anniversary tea in 1980, 35 years ago,” said Mr. Sylvester. “Twelve of the 58 Sisters of St. Joseph who had been stationed here from 1945-1979 were able to attend the anniversary tea. It was at that time that the Sisters of St. Joseph relinquished ownership and the hospital became known as the Manitoulin Health Centre. At that time, the north central region chair, from Blind River, advised in her address that Ontario’s auxiliary membership was 66,000 with 224 hospital auxiliaries.”

“We have built quite a history,” Mr. Sylvester concluded. “Laila has kept a record of pictures and articles on events and activities during the past 10-15 years. “There has been a lot of dollars raised and equipment purchased over the years. There has been fun and friendships and the events have also provided an opportunity for the community to come together socially. We are continuing the tradition.”