While North York General Hospital was emerging as a very concrete fact at the corner of Leslie and Sheppard in the mid 1960s, the women in the community were organizing to be ready to help as soon as its doors opened. In January 1966, a meeting was held to initiate a Women's Auxiliary for North York General Hospital and the hospital's Board of Governors asked Mrs. S. A. Shoemaker to approach someone in the community to head up such an auxiliary. A Steering Committee was set up in April with Mrs. H. Egerton Young as Chairman, and in June an initial recruitment yielded 200 members. In September, the name was changed to the "North York General Hospital Volunteer Services" and in November 15, 1966, at its inaugural meeting and election of officers, Mrs. S. A. Shoemaker was elected first President. On that day North York General Hospital Volunteer Services officially came into existence.
Throughout 1967, membership in the new Volunteer Services continued to grow so that by March 1968 1,081 members were recorded. Committees were set up and functioned through this period to be ready when the new hospital opened. During March 15, 1968, the official opening of the hospital, volunteers clocked 3,132 hours during the Open House period. The first sale in the Gift Shop was made to Premier John Robarts.
In 1971, Volunteer Services aided further training for hospital staff with the Educational Assistance Fund, renamed the Jean S. Taylor Staff Education Fund in 1973. As Assistant Hospital Administrator and later as Assistant to the Executive Director until her retirement in 1972, Jean Taylor was an ex officio member of the Volunteer Services Board. She supported and encouraged Volunteer Services from the beginning.
In 1969, the volunteer program for adolescents was begun. The teenagers worked with adult volunteers after school, on weekends and during the summer holidays.
An enduring legacy of care and support
Today, our community teaching hospital benefits from the over 900 women and men in our Volunteer Services. For over four decades our blue-smocked volunteers have been a comforting presence, providing directions, advice and lending a helping hand to patients and their families, visitors, and hospital staff. Volunteers serve in approximately 45 areas of the hospital. A special tree planting ceremony was held in fall 2006 to mark the 40th anniversary of Volunteer Services.
Volunteer Services plays a critical role in helping to raise funds for hospital projects and equipment. In 2007, North York General Hospital Volunteer Services pledged to raise $3 million over 10 years for the new Volunteer Services Centre for Medical Imaging. In 2010 they had raised an impressive $1,010,647. These funds were raised through the Gift Shop and Etcetera Shop, the Seniors’ Health Centre Tuck Shop, book and garage sales and quilt raffles.
In December 2010, North York General Hospital celebrated the grand opening of the Volunteer Services Centre for Medical Imaging. The event recognized the outstanding support of Volunteer Services, Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji and the Government of Ontario.
In 2003, the Volunteer Services Birthing Centre was named to recognize the $1 million raised by Volunteer Services for the Stand By Me Campaign. More recently, Volunteer Services contributed generously to the new Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Orthopaedic and Plastics Centre that was officially opened In November 2006.
Their enduring legacy has made North York General so much stronger throughout its entire history:
Over the past decades, Volunteer Services has given back to its community by giving our hospital well over three million hours of volunteer service. That works out to be over 345 years of volunteerism.
Since 1966, Volunteer Services has made financial contributions, totalling over $5,184,000.
North York General is grateful for the outstanding accomplishments of Volunteer Services.