Volunteer group celebrates 75-years of fundraising for eastern Ontario hospital


A celebration was held on Saturday for a dedicated group of volunteers, who over the past seven decades have raised millions of dollars for a small eastern Ontario hospital.

All dressed up and ready to party, the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Auxiliary celebrated their 75-year anniversary.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated compassionate people that have given their time, energy, resources and skills,” auxiliary director Joan Farlinger said. 

The Winchester District Memorial Hospital Auxiliary members pose with new equipment donated to the hospital in 2019. (Supplied)

In 1948, a small group of women met to discuss the impact that a new hospital would bring to Winchester, Ont., forming before the hospital was even built.

“When they first started, they were making linens and bedsheets for the hospital, and then they found out that they couldn’t just be a supportive organization, they had to be a fundraising organization and so that’s what they did,” Farlinger said. 

They held multiple fundraisers every year, including 50/50 draws and dances, with every penny raised going right back to Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH).

“Millions! I can’t tell you how many millions but it’s a lot,” said auxiliary volunteer Bev Beck. 

“I like to give back so this is a way of doing it,” she said, a volunteer for 15 years. 

“In a year, I’d say we raise maybe $20,000, so for us to donate lots of money it takes time and a lot of volunteers,” Beck said. 

That money helps buy equipment not covered by government funding.

“They have bought everything from chairs to IV pumps to equipment for the operating room,” said Jane Adams, communications lead for WDMH. “Millions of dollars of equipment has been raised by the auxiliary.”

MP Eric Duncan serves tea at the 75th anniversary celebration for the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Auxiliary in Winchester, Ont. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

Saturday’s event included high tea, served by MP Eric Duncan and MPP Nolan Quinn. A fashion show was also presented by two local businesses, Juli’s Fashion and Biba / Cassleman’s Shoe Store. 

It was a chance to thank all the dedicated volunteers, many who work in every department at WDMH. 

“It has changed since COVID, but they are still helping out at the information desk, the gift shop and secretary duties when needed,” Farlinger said. 

“I still volunteer. I’m at the front desk every Thursday morning and I love it,” she added, a past president the auxiliary and a volunteer for 35 years. “I’m passionate about our hospital. It’s the best little hospital around.”

To wrap up the event, the auxiliary presented a cheque for more than $230,000 raised over past several years.

“Proud,” said Beck, holding back tears. “I’m proud.”

“It’s incredibly important,” Adams said. “Winchester hospital wouldn’t exist without our volunteers.”

The current volunteer group consists of around 60 people, but they are always looking for more.

“Come and look us over and I’m sure that you would fit right in with the social crew that we have,” Farlinger said.

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