Volunteer Association

Introduction  ||  Board presidents  ||  Milestones
A brief history:  Origins  ||  Fundraising  ||  The volunteer program  ||  The legacy

A brief history: The Volunteer Program

Fostering the Program

Opening of the Patients' Library, 1979
Opening of the Patients' Library, 1979. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives)
The second major function of the Auxiliary has been its commitment to supporting the volunteer program. The initial purpose and role of the volunteers in the hospital had been carefully delineated in 1920 - that of preparing handmade linens for general use in the hospital. This mandate continued, with few changes, for the first 25 years of the Auxiliary's existence, almost to the exclusion of other activities.

By 1946, however, the Auxiliary began to expand to include a few direct services to patients. Volunteers started to serve as administrative helpers in the outpatient department and in admitting. Through the 1950s and 1960s, volunteers also offered services to patients through the maternity cart, the bookcart and the “Tuck Shop” sundry cart.

In 1968, the recruitment and administration of volunteer activities was to become part of the newly formed administrative department of Volunteer Services. At that time, the Auxiliary had built up the volunteer membership to 122 active members and an additional 53 sustaining members.

After 1968, the Auxiliary continued to foster volunteering and support for patients through the oversight of a number of activities, notably the start of an outpatient Christmas Party (1968), the reactivation of the Craft Group in 1976, the creation of the new Patients’ Library in 1979 (with a roving magazine service to waiting rooms) and the move and revitalization of the Gift Shop in 1993.

Outpatient Christmas Party, 1984
Outpatient Christmas Party, 1984. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives
In addition, the Auxiliary has always been a supporter of the volunteers themselves. Throughout its history, the Auxiliary had a focus on social activities that promoted camaraderie among the volunteers: annual dinners, boat cruises, food in the volunteer lounge and luncheons with guest speakers. These events have always been very well attended and very much appreciated by the volunteers. After the creation of Volunteer Services, the volunteer board continued to oversee a number of important volunteer recognition activities, including a tri-annual newsletter, regular luncheons and dinners, condolence cards for sick volunteers and years of service pins.