Q&A with Bernadette Wlad, President of the Central Peace Health Complex Auxiliary

Meet the members of the Ladies Auxiliary. From left, back row: Giselle Lewchek, Josie Drzewrcki, Bernadette Wlad, Alice Dovish, Marg Kosobeck, Jean Kowalchuk, Elaine Bauman, Connie MacDougall, Nancy Badiuck, Betty Sopko, Ingrid Chalice, Claudia Pahish, Albina Bilawchuk, Inga Knoblauch, and Diane Gades. Front row: Marion Chugg, May Wornuck, Marion Skoworodko, Agnus Kosobeck and Theresa Richard. Not in photo: Mary Knoblauch, Dorothy Markovich and Hope McNally. // Photo by Denise van Rootselaar

The Central Peace Health Complex Auxiliary was formed in 1972, at the same time as when the Complex was built. It is the second Auxiliary Foundation to have been established in this area – the first one being in 1941 that ran until the original hospital, Holy Cross, was closed in 1970, which had been carried on by the Sisters of Charity. The purpose for the Auxiliary Foundation, according to its bylaws, is to acquire new equipment for the hospital. Basically, the Auxiliary would approach the hospital administration to inquire what exactly is the felt need at any given time.

President Bernadette Wlad graciously took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us and elaborate on the goings-on of the Auxiliary.

Q: What are some of the pieces of equipment the Auxiliary has raised money for?
A: We have purchased many items, including special air mattresses, whirlpool tub, tilt and recline positioning wheelchairs, television sets, a bath stretcher, and most recently an ice water dispenser and an oxygen perfector. Sometimes we contribute with other people on the bigger items.

How does the Foundation raise funds to purchase the equipment?
We get a quilt every year that we sell 1,200 tickets for at the Wanham Plowing Match, Deken Race the 8, and Chepi Sepe Days. The tickets are usually available every year at the hospital as well. We used to do the ourselves, but for the past three years or so Inga Knoblauch sews them for us. We also do a casino fund-raiser every three years that keeps us going. And then there is the memorial fund that people donate to when someone passes away. They donate money in memory of that person. We also have a gift cupboard at the hospital, near the entrance, that we fill with handmade quilts and knitted and crocheted items, plus books and toiletries that patients and visitors can purchase from.

Is there anything else the auxiliary volunteers do besides purchase equipment?
Yes, we help people in various ways, such as giving them rides to their appointments. We help in Long Term care by keeping patients company, reading to them, taking them for walks and that sort of thing. And we give tray favours containing gifts or treats to the patients at Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas time. We also help with the foot care by assisting with signing the people up.

How long have you been with the foundation?
I just recently received my 10-year pin.

How many members are there currently?
Currently, there are 24 members.

What challenges does the Foundation face?
While we do have quite a few members, we don’t have many younger members and we don’t get any new members. So, it’s a struggle. It’s the same people who volunteer all over the place. We are very fortunate that we never have a challenge selling the tickets for the quilt and our casinos are always successful.

What is the Foundation currently raising money for?
We don’t specifically have any equipment in mind because what happens is that we go to the hospital once we have the casino money. We let the hospital know we’re having a casino and they can’t order anything until we have the money collected. And then it’s whatever they need at that time.

For those interested to volunteer, the Central Peace Health Complex Auxiliary meets every third Monday of every month at the Spirit River Health Unit, just down the street from the Complex.