May 23, 2023
Established in 1994, the Devon General Hospital Foundation is committed to the promotion and enhancement of healthcare programs and services offered within the community of Devon. The foundation’s current board members are, rear row from left, Linda Shute, Trudie Wagner, Cheryl Smith, Sharon Elhard, Fiona McAllister, Randy Wyton, Maryanne Sagan and Doreen Farrants, and front row from left, Cyndie Sekora, Noella Winterhalt, Debi Nonay, Barb Wallace, Laura Wyton and Pat Fyrk. (Absent: Barb Dillingham.) Photo by Amelia Schofield.
Story & photo by Amelia Schofield
DEVON — Alberta Health Services recognizes May as Health Philanthropy Month. Throughout the month, we’ll be celebrating our philanthropic partners who raise funds for healthcare throughout the province.
The Faces of the Foundations profile series will introduce you to the individuals and groups who lead healthcare philanthropy across Alberta. This week, we’re pleased to profile the Devon General Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, which includes chair Barb Wallace, vice-chair Debi Nonay, Barb Dillingham, Doreen Farrants, Sharon Elhard, Fiona McAllister and Cyndie Sekora.
Why did you become involved with the Devon General Hospital Foundation?
Barb Wallace: When I was asked to join the foundation, I was president of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Women’s Auxiliary. I had two good friends who served on the foundation’s board of directors, and I decided to join the foundation as well. In a smaller community, it can be difficult to recruit volunteers, but we’re truly blessed to have such a wonderful team.
Debi Nonay: I believe the Devon General Hospital is an integral part of our community and our foundation is a major supporter of it. Volunteering with the foundation helps raise funds for medical equipment, programs, renovations and supports the needs of patients, families and staff in our hospital. I cannot think of a better way to help ensure the continuity of quality healthcare in our community.
Sharon Elhard: I was a Registered Nurse for many years and worked in the old Devon hospital. We’ve lived on our acreage for 46 years and my family has used the hospital many times. I always felt it was necessary to keep the hospital going with the best equipment we could get. I’ve known many of the hospital staff and doctors — they appreciate everything the foundation and its donors do for them. I’ve served in many volunteer positions over the years, but this one truly impacts us all. It’s been my privilege to be on this Board. I hope to continue going forward.
Why is health philanthropy important to you?
Barb Wallace: Philanthropy is important to me, as I feel that giving to our fellow mankind is a small gesture of showing that we care for each other. Not everyone can afford to donate monetarily, but we all can afford to give kindness and appreciation for those in need. At some point in our lives, we’ll all need the care and kindness others can offer.
Debi Nonay: Health philanthropy can provide many of the ‘extras’ not funded by normal streams of health funding for our hospitals. Local needs can be identified, and support provided within smaller communities.
Fiona McAllister: The extra things that the foundation funds can make a huge difference for staff and patients. Things such as stuffed animals to give to children in the hospital going through loss or pain, beautiful murals to reduce the clinical nature of the spaces, funding for items such as a bladder scanner that’s quick, effective and portable — and showing appreciation for the staff — make such a difference.
What recent foundation accomplishments make you most proud?
Barb Dillingham: The foundation supports all departments of our hospital. One of the programs that’s close to my heart is the long-term care recreation program. The foundation supports this program to purchase games, decorations, entertainment, field trips and treats for special occasions.
The foundation also funded a beautiful courtyard for residents, patients and staff to enjoy, and we provide funds for the courtyard to be maintained. We have amazing staff and volunteers at our hospital. They all do their best to make the lives of our residents, patients and their families a lot easier.
Doreen Farrants: We’ve also welcomed new board members over the past few years. Each comes from a diverse background and their input has contributed greatly to the foundation.
Recently, our gift shop in the hospital reopened to the delight of patients and the public. This was no easy feat. It’s the determination and commitment from dedicated members of the Board and volunteers who proudly see to the day-to-day operations of the shop.
Like most organizations, success comes from the strength in its leadership. We’re fortunate to have an extraordinary leader and chair in Barb Wallace. Her quiet and confident style of leadership brings out the best in each board member. Barb is a book of knowledge and an integral member of our organization.
Cyndie Sekora: When I joined the foundation and learned about all their great work and the impact, I was quite amazed. One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is highlighting the great work of the foundation. Our largest annual fundraising event returned after four years — Tastes from Around the World — and we played a video presentation during the event to showcase the foundation’s many contributions.
What initiatives are coming up at the foundation?
Barb Dillingham: On April 27, the foundation brought back our Tastes from Around the World event. This year, we raised funds for a LUCAS chest compression system. We also had a demonstration of the system at the event, which provided community members an example of what their donations support.
Doreen Farrants: In addition to this event, the board has also been publishing regular updates in the local newspaper, The Devon Dispatch. This provides us with an important opportunity to communicate about our initiatives and accomplishments to the large area we serve.
What’s the best way for Albertans to support the foundation?
Sharon Elhard: Be knowledgeable about what we do, how we do it and why. Give in material donations if you can, or give your time. There are so many groups in our midst that need help, so maybe pick what calls to you, and give what you can. It’s always appreciated and most definitely needed.
Fiona McAllister: One of the best ways people can show their support is by volunteering. Time is sometimes just as important as the actual funds. The task is big and new people can also offer fresh ideas and new skills that are needed for our foundation. New and different ideas help us progress in our efforts.
Cyndie Sekora: Certainly, financial donations are always welcome and appreciated, but the community can also support the foundation by volunteering or attending our annual fundraising event.
See more information on the Devon General Hospital Foundation.