by Derek Cornet

In a fitting tribute to more than eight decades of service, the remaining members of the  Meadow Lake Health Care Auxiliary have a farewell surprise for residents.

They’re donating $50,000 to the Pioneer Lodge Fund, which will be used to purchase new equipment at the future long-term care facility. The auxiliary also plans to purchase a few more pieces of equipment and give what’s remaining of its funds to the Meadow Lake Hospital Foundation.

Auxiliary secretary Evangeline Friedrich said members have achieved a lot of during the years and she’s sad to see the group disband.

“We’re just at the point where the ladies who are involved in it are getting older and they’re not able to carry on and the young ones don’t have time,” she remarked. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m sad. But, I’m 86 years old and I find it hard to get out. In the summer it isn’t bad, but when I look out my window and see all the snow and the trees all bent over, I just hate the thought of going out to do it anymore.”

The health care auxiliary has been operating since the 1930s, and president Joan Krause said women have always been the driving force.

“The women were at home and the men were working when it started,” she stated. “There was a need for equipment in the hospital and the ladies just started buying equipment by raising funds with raffles or bake sales. It just progressed from there.”

Throughout the years, members organized numerous events including a fashion show, as well as the inaugural Festival of Trees – a fundraiser now spearheaded by the hospital foundation. Krause said the fashion show was held because doctors asked for a bariatric bed, which cost $14,000 at the time.

Krause went on to say the group has donated cash or equipment to many local organizations. While they only supported the hospital for some time, members chose to give to other health care providers such as home care, the Northland Pioneers Lodge and Strides program. From 2000-2010, Krause noted close to $250,000 was distributed to local causes.

Due to the rising age of members, however, the auxiliary can no longer do the work it once did. Eight people form the core of the group now and Krause stated long-time members are now more than 80 years old. Without new volunteers, she added their legacy can’t continue.

This Saturday, a farewell meal will be held and the $50,000 donation will be presented to the lodge fundraising committee.