Few service clubs are capable of directly affecting as many people as the Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary (LHCA). Since its inception in 1909, the multi-faceted organization's volunteers have donated approximately $5 million, primarily in recent years, to purchase essential pieces of medical equipment, provide thousands of dollars in bursaries for local high school students, and support a multitude of programs and services such as those offered by the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society, the Ladysmith Resource Centre and our food bank.
The LHCA also administers a youth volunteer program, gift store, and Meals on Wheels, as well as supporting amenities and programs to residents of the Lodge on 4th, maintaining the Memorial Gardens, providing comfort pillows for cancer patients and generously providing baby layettes to each Ladysmith newborn. However, the most recognizable part of the organization is its popular thrift store.
"It's amazing how much money we can raise by selling t-shirts for a dollar," says Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary president, Pam Fraser. "Our community is incredibly supportive both by donating generously and shopping at our store."
It comes as no surprise that an organization devoted to helping others would be recognized for giving back. Recently, the Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary was named one of two finalists for the prestigious 2017 National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Philanthropic Service Club Award, which will be handed out during a ceremony in Victoria on November 22. It was nominated by a thankful recipient of the LHCA's generosity, BC Children's Hospital, which received $100,000 in funding from the LHCA over a four year period.
"We serve an important purpose in providing programs and services for people who really need them - that includes any Ladysmith resident who receives services from other places on Vancouver Island and the mainland, including BC Children's Hospital," says Fraser. "However, while the recognition for our work is wonderful, that isn't why we volunteer. Rather, it's about giving back to our community."
So far this year, LHCA has approved more than $250,000 in donations. During its most recent annual general meeting, LHCA approved all of the Ladysmith Community Health Centre's requests including:
- Four airflow mattresses to prevent bedsores
- New stationery bicycle with adaptions for physio patients who have had strokes or hip replacements
- Portable lift
- Dermatoscope for close examination of skin tissue for cancer detection
- Portable ultrasound machine for use in urgent care
Citing the fact that smaller communities tend to have more active health care auxiliaries, Fraser encourages other Ladysmith residents to consider volunteering. The thrift store is busier than ever and requires more volunteers to get the goods out to customers. Currently, only 10 per cent of LHCA volunteers are men, and the organization would also like to attract a more culturally diverse volunteer base.
"Volunteering feels good and for most of us, provides a sense of positive purpose in our lives in knowing that we are doing something to help others. It's also stimulating and interesting – socially, intellectually, and emotionally satisfying," Fraser says. "We offer a great atmosphere with lots of laughs and many opportunities to socialize and meet new people."
Anyone wishing to become a member or to learn more about LHCA and its activities can visit http://www.ladysmithhealthcareaux.ca/ or the LHCA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ladysmith-Healthcare-Auxiliary-399436413468975/ You can also pick up an application in person at the Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store at 910 - First Avenue, Ladysmith.