BCAHA President Attends Ontario Auxiliary Conference

Ontario ConferenceLate last year, I had the privilege of attending the Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario’s Annual Conference in Toronto.  One of BCAHA’s past presidents, Margaret Dawson, initiated communication with the HAAO president several years ago.  My personal visit in November was an opportunity to further these efforts in building a valuable connection with another provincial auxiliary association.

The Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario is divided into 11 geographical areas, each represented by a regional chair and an assistant regional chair.  These individuals, along with the elected executive committee, comprise the governing body Ontario Conferenceof the association.  The province of Ontario, as is the case in British Columbia, covers an exceedingly large geographical area and shares the same weather-related travel challenges.  Currently, the full HAAO Board meets in Toronto four times yearly, but it is my understanding that they plan to reduce the number of board members attending these meetings in order to lower costs.  In our province, the full board meets twice yearly, including a pre-conference meeting, and the executive committee meets on one additional occasion.

The HAAO Conference receives both financial and practical support from the Hospitals Association of Ontario, and the respective association conferences are held simultaneously each fall, and always in the same location, Toronto.  The conference meetings, workshops, seminars and delegate social events take place in three separate locations: the Toronto Convention Center, the Intercontinental Hotel and the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Keynote Speaker Martin Short addresses an appreciative audience of 2,500 at the convention center ballroom.

Keynote speaker Martin Short addresses an appreciative audience of 2,500 at the convention center ballroom.

The opening speaker this year was comedian and actor, Martin Short, who shared humorous anecdotes about himself and fellow celebrities, and also spoke eloquently about his experiences with cancer.  His mother was stricken with the disease and died while he was quite young, and his wife of over 40 years also succumbed to cancer after a lengthy and courageous battle.  The lesson he learned was the importance of resilience—it is not how many times you are knocked down, but whether you get back up or not.  He concluded that his sense of humour has been a strong contributing factor in his ability to successfully overcome the many difficult life challenges he has faced.

As a full delegate, I attended a workshop entitled, “How to make your Hospital Gift Shop More Successful,” and another which focused on “Volunteer Recruitment in Today’s World.”  Both provided excellent, practical information.  In fact, I will be using much of the material regarding recruitment strategies in my presentation at the upcoming Leadership Forum in Penticton.

HAAO Dir. of Communications Rick Wark and HAAO Treasurer Elda Sopha offer a warm welcome to BCAHA President Lynda Avis.

HAAO Dir. of Communications Rick Wark and HAAO Treasurer Elda Sopha offer a warm welcome to BCAHA President Lynda Avis.

I also participated in an evening town hall meeting and was a guest speaker at the HAAO’s Annual General Meeting.  I brought greetings from the BCAHA Board of Directors and our many auxiliary volunteers.  When I quoted the statistical information regarding the number of BCAHA auxiliary volunteers in B.C., the number of hours volunteered, and the total dollars donated last year, there was loud applause from the assembled group, and even some cheers and whistles.  It is interesting to note that the BCAHA auxiliary volunteer base is much smaller than that of the HAAO, yet the dollars donated compare most favourably.  I think we should be exceedingly proud of our collective efforts here in beautiful B.C.

BCAHA President Lynda Avis connects with HAAO President Marion Saunders (left) and HAAO Immediate Past President Elen MacMillan (right).

BCAHA President Lynda Avis connects with HAAO President Marion Saunders (left) and HAAO Immediate Past President Elen MacMillan (right).

As a visiting provincial president, I met on three separate occasions with my counterpart and once with the immediate past president.  I was a welcome guest at the HAAO Board of Director’s first night reception, and I was also invited to sit in on the post-conference Board meeting.  I was fortunate to share a room with the HAAO treasurer and as most “roomies” do, we talked far into the night, and then there was more talk over coffee at the crack of dawn.  Our chatter was all about auxiliaries, budgets, strategic plans, thrift stores, gift shops, hospitals and care homes.  All of these interactive opportunities enhanced the value of my conference attendance and, as a result, I not only learned a great deal but I was also able to share the many successes enjoyed by our provincial association.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynda Avis, BCAHA President