The Gabriola Health Care Auxiliary was formed in 2006 by Marilyn Geater who recognised that plans for an emergency treatment room would never get off the ground without community awareness. She organised weekly information tables at the Farmer’s Market, a Mother’s Day Tea, and the infamous ‘Make Pat Smith pay on St. Paddy’s Day’ fundraiser. Marilyn’s initial vision and determination truly helped to inspire others, led to the opening of the Twin Beaches Interim Clinic, and let the story begin.
In the fall of 2009, I became the president of the auxiliary and Brenda Fowler was the president of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation. The Year of the Clinic fundraising campaign and property rezoning initiatives required a strong strategic alliance, so the auxiliary became more closely affiliated with the foundation. While under their loose umbrella I reported on auxiliary activities as a liaison at their joint meetings.
From January 2010 until December 2011 the auxiliary’s 37 fundraising events and public awareness activities kept the project in front of the community, and built momentum for the community clinic. The auxiliary staffed the volunteer office at Folklife Village, and provided a visible centralised location for the clinic project. But all these activities took a toll on the auxiliary’s little core of 10 woman and two men – and in the fall of 2011 we passed the office to the foundation and took the winter off.
Then Dave Innell, vice president of the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS), suggested we become the auxiliary committee. We’d already planned to focus our fundraising efforts on future services like Meals on Wheels, Drivers to Doctors, and something we would later call Seniors Link, as the health centre building was well under way. When it became clear early in 2012 that the Health Care Society would not continue as a society, we decided to take control of our own funds and future projects.
In May 2012 the auxiliary joined the British Columbia Association of Health Care Auxiliaries, applied to form our own auxiliary/society, and turned our focus to improving access to health care services and programs for Gabriolans. If this sounds like the purposes of the GHCS, you’re correct. In fact the Auxiliary’s Society constitution is the same as the former GHCS.
The Gabriola Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society was formed in June 2012. We will be establishing health care programs and services, and funding equipment to the community clinic. We have grown to 46 members and counting!
Because of the generous support of Gabriolans, the Gabe Shop is a huge success, and we have raised approximately $15,000 net, since opening in the middle of July. Thank you - Gabriola!
We have meetings scheduled with Vancouver Island Health Association, have met with the health centre doctors, and will meet with Dr. Mackenzie. We hope to establish a small-scale Meals on Wheels in November.
Volunteers have been trained for the Nanaimo Lifeline Emergency Call Centre.
The Drivers to Doctors program has already begun in a very informal manner.
We have applied to New Horizons for a grant to buy a van, with the operating costs covered by proceeds from the Gabe Shop.
Not wanting to put all of our eggs into one basket we also have plans to request funding for a van from Nissan and other charitable organisations.
We have also received an equipment wish list from the Gabriola Community Health Centre doctors, and are working towards purchasing an item for them.
And we plan to build a Gabe kiosk for coffee and program information on the lower level of the health centre.
Because we are moving so quickly, and the support and expectations of those we service is high, we are planning to have our first AGM this Nov. 28 at 7 pm at the Rollo Seniors’ Centre.
We are expanding the Board of Directors, discussing other new initiatives with the members, and providing new opportunities for volunteers.
If YOU have time, talent and an interest please feel free to come by the GABE Shop and pick up a membership application.
Ed note: This article has been edited for length.
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