AUXILIARY NOTES: Celebrating a milestone

We all need a little perspective on Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary’s 65th anniversary.

The year 1948 was nine years before White Rock’s incorporation as a city and six years before construction of the first hospital on North Bluff Road. It was the year of the hit songs I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, The Woody Woodpecker Song and the number one hit, Buttons and Bows, by Dinah Shore.

The Aug. 30, 1948 minutes of Surrey council include references to a $3,200 proposal to hard-surface Stayte Road, to an offer of $850 as the purchase price of two municipal lots and to the request for $17 to compensate for 17 New Hampshire poultry killed by unknown dogs, pursuant to Bylaw 912. The latter claim was settled at 75 cents per bird, or $12.75, the maximum allowed.

Life was different then; it was a simpler world.

The community needed a hospital – the doctors and patients went to New Westminster for care – and the expanding community needed to get involved. No Facebook, no email – just party-line telephones, if you were lucky enough to have a phone.

In 1948, Ruth Bruels and Geraldine Fraser started selling second-hand “superfluous” items to raise funds.

And on Nov. 16, 1948, the first Auxiliary donation was made to the hospital, in the amount of $1,000.

A little house was donated by three doctors and the first “Superfluity Shop” was opened March 18, 1950 on Vidal Avenue. Little household items, clothing and pieces of furniture were picked up by the husbands and delivered to the store for the ladies to sell.

The shop flourished for 30 years, but it became too old and too cold, and was last used in filming the 1982 movie Butcher of Burquitlam before being torn down.

A tire shop became available on Prospect Avenue and, with the vision of Diane Perrie and her executive, the Auxiliary raised the funds to purchase the property. With some major renovations over the years and some innovative Convenors, this shop is still the major fundraiser for the Auxiliary.

The Gift Shop started small, right beside the cafeteria. It sold mostly candy and magazines, but there were always hand-knitted baby outfits and stuffed toys available.

Alice Traill took over the Gift Shop in 1982, convinced Dixie Kerr to join her, and together, they did the buying for the shop for more than 20 years. During that time, a major renovation gave the Gift Shop a prestigious spot in the entrance to the hospital.

Baby outfits have been knitted since 1955. The Flower Power group has made our flower arrangements since 1996.

Betty, Janet and their fellow volunteers now run the shop, which carries the most unique gift items, jewelry, knitted baby outfits.

The Gift Shop is certainly a place to shop for Christmas and birthdays, as well as for patients.

The Auxiliary started in neighbourhoods and the names of the groups were likely created over a glass of wine. Goodwill (now Kay Hogg Goodwill Group) and Ruth Bruels Group are each 65 years old, and the Semiahmoo Group is 64 years old. Newer groups of the Auxiliary also have great energy and creativity for fundraising.

The hard work and focus of the Auxilians is the reason for this success, but truly, each member is there for friendship, to stay active, as well as to improve our hospital.

New members, and new ideas are welcomed.

After 65 years, we reflect on the enormous achievements. A million dollars to each of the MRI and maternity projects, and over $10 million donated overall, raised a nickel or dollar at a time, from the Gift Shop, the many group projects, or from your donations to the Superfluity Shop, which are always needed.

Oh, yes, about perspective…

We would not have the hospital that we have today without the 400 existing Auxiliary volunteers, and without the thousands who have donated countless hours over the past 65 years.

Members will meet June 5 for their AGM, and will have a special celebration on June 24.

Marylou Kirstein is a past president of the Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary. The group writes monthly in Peace Arch News.

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