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‘Feeling good helping others’: Hospital auxiliary in Salmon Arm needs more volunteers

Any amount of time will be appreciated, public grateful for support
Volunteers Edie Swanson, Deanna Little and Joyce Fetterley stand in 2021 by the gift shop in Salmon Arm’s Shuswap Lake General Hospital with quilts donated to the Shuswap Lake Health-Care Auxiliary. (Photo contributed)

Just two to three hours a week can generate those feel-good emotions – when you know you’ve helped someone and you’ve made a human connection, even if brief.

The Shuswap Lake Health-Care Auxiliary has been in Salmon Arm for 112 years, providing help and comfort to people in Shuswap Lake General Hospital. It’s currently in need of volunteers.

Auxiliary spokesperson Edie Swanson said the volunteers help and support in several ways in several areas of the hospital, such as rehabilitation; imaging – which can include CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds and cardiology; the gift shop and more.

Duties can include folding towels and changing sheets in rehab; folding gowns; greeting patients; staffing the gift shop. There are also activities that can be done without coming to the hospital, such as being on the auxiliary’s phoning committee, typing, sewing and knitting.

Volunteers also wrap gifts at the Mall at Piccadilly for Christmas and hold book sales.

Read more: Presence of auxiliary volunteers missed at Salmon Arm hospital during pandemic

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The hospital has student volunteers but they’re part of the youth health-care volunteers, and spend their time at Bastion Place and the hospital.

The auxiliary provides three scholarships a year for the youth volunteers, as well as raising funds for many pieces of equipment and comfort items for the hospital over the years.

Money raised is not only spent locally – an annual donation goes to JoeAnna’s House in Kelowna as well the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Swanson said the auxiliary is looking for new members as it’s down to 38 – about half the number prior to Covid.

Women 19 and over are welcome, and the shifts, which are in the daytime, are variable.

Volunteer hours tend to range from two to three hours a week. If preferred, a person can be a spare, or volunteer every other week.

“Any time anyone can contribute is most appreciated,” Swanson said.

The auxiliary meets the third Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in the hospital board room. It doesn’t meet in July, August or December, however.

“We’re open to anyone who wants to help others. And to provide comfort for patients. So often they want someone to talk to and we’re there to listen to them.

“We have been part of Salmon Arm for 112 years, which we’re very proud of. We just need more volunteers for us to continue to provide all the help we can.”

The benefits, she emphasizes, are worth it.

“It’s feeling good about helping others, developing friendships and having fun.

“That’s the main thing. It’s just giving to help other people. And you’re always thanked from the public when you help them out.”

For more information about the auxiliary or to volunteer, email

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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