The RVH Hospital Auxiliary

Two RVH Auxiliary women in the gift shop

The involvement of local women with Renfrew Victoria Hospital can be traced back to 1903 when the Ladies Committee of RVH ran their first booth at the Renfrew Fair selling candy, fruit, and ice cream to raise money for the hospital. They organized concerts and teas, and many volunteered their time and skills by baking, canning or doing needlework. In 1914, the first Women’s Auxiliary was founded and women worked in conjunction with the men’s committee responsible for overseeing hospital operations. Frustrated that the men made decisions without consulting them, the Women’s Auxiliary disbanded in 1917. Thirty years later, in 1945, the present Renfrew Victoria Hospital Auxiliary was founded.

In the early days, Auxiliary members were busy mending articles of clothing and linens and providing furnishings and drapes for the hospital and the nurses’ residence next door. Over the years, the Auxiliary took on many different projects in an effort to raise money to purchase needed hospital equipment. One of the main sources of income was from the hospital ‘tag days’, when the women campaigned on main street. The Charity Ball was a well-attended and successful fundraiser from 1949 until the late 1980’s. In the 1960’s, a tuck cart and library cart were introduced to take treats and books around to patients in their rooms. The Auxiliary’s Boutique Victoria opened in 1979 and was a popular new-to-you downtown shop until it closed in 1992. That year a Gift Shop opened at the hospital offering greeting cards and many lovely gift items. The biggest fundraiser these days is the HELPP lottery, the hospital’s version of Nevada tickets, which are sold at Aikenhead’s Drug Store.

In 1989, the Auxiliary made an ambitious pledge to raise $150,000 for the Caring for Tomorrow building campaign. They kicked off their fundraising with a house tour of Renfrew. The 30 member Auxiliary attained their financial goal a mere four years later. From 1989 to 2007 the Auxiliary raised and donated over $644,562.96 to the Hospital.

None of these events and projects could be accomplished without the dedication of the Auxiliary's 60 volunteers. They can be found daily in the hospital gift shop, working at the clinics and in chronic care, acting as waitresses at senior’s luncheons, delivering meals-on wheels.

An active member of the Hospital Auxiliary Association of Ontario, as part of Region 9, the Auxiliary also presents bursaries to three high schools to graduating students entering a health–related field of study. RVH Auxiliary has honored 20 of its members with a Honorary Life Membership in the HAAO, recognizing their many years of dedicated service to the Auxiliary and the Hospital. Men have joined the Auxiliary in recent years and membership is open to all.

If you are interested in joining the Auxiliary, please call the President, Janie Bilson at 613-281-6703.

The Auxiliary and the Hospital express their gratitude for the generous support of the community over the years. The Boards of the Hospital are very grateful to the Auxiliary for all the work that they do on behalf of RVH.