After overwhelming generosity from the Hope community, the healthcare workers who work and live here decided it was time to throw it back to the community in the form of a big cheque made out to the Hope Food Bank.
Jo-Dee Chisholm has been an emergency room nurse for 30 years and now leads, educates and supports nurses at the Fraser Canyon Hospital. She first had the idea to raise some money after reading about nurses at Langley Memorial Hospital who had gathered over $2,500 for their local food bank. “And I thought ‘I think we can do that,’” Chisholm said.
She put the idea onto a Facebook group for Hope’s nurses and the donations started flowing in. And once a doctor jumped on board to donate, all of Hope’s docs got into the competitive spirit by putting money down.
“It just became a whirlwind, one single post turned into $1,400 in donations,” Chisholm said. “For such a small group of people…I’m really blown away by the generosity.” The final tally for donations was $1,575, with 20 people donating.
Giving back comes after hospital and healthcare workers have received so much from the community. From “local seamstresses making us OR caps to cover our hair with little buttons sewn on them so we can attach our masks to them, our ears and faces are suffering greatly from wearing masks for 12 hours,” Chisholm recalled.
“Headbands have been made with buttons sewn on. A fellow in town has a 3D printer and he made some ear savers with little blue clips that are attached.”
A month into the pandemic, Chisholm said hospital staff are finding a rhythm after daily changes to routines, gear and personal protective equipment at the outset. “It was pretty stressful in the beginning, but now we’ve kind of caught the flow and it’s a little easier,” she said. “It’s inconvenient, I’m sure, for the community, some of the screening we have to do. But they have all been really understanding and patient with us.”
Donations of food have kept flowing in as well. One woman made a meal for everyone at the hospital and the Fraser Hope Lodge, delivering her cooking in huge boxes. The Rolling Pin has donated several times, Chisholm added, as well as donations of chocolate, Starbucks and Tim Hortons coffee and much more.
“These small-town places have really been so generous. I’m sure I’ve forgotten many and I’m sorry,” she said.
“It’s really humbled me,” Chisholm added. “I’ve worked in this town the majority of my career and never really connected with the community, other than on a daily basis, and what’s happened has really, really humbled me and I realize that I made the right choice by working in a small town.”
The food bank was a natural choice for their funds, Chisholm said, with restaurants and grocery stores cutting down or stopping their donations to the food bank due to the pandemic.
“(And) for the people struggling with layoffs and waiting for government funding, it’s just a huge, huge upset to our community.” Staff made it clear to her, they wanted the dollars kept locally.
Erica Press generously made up a large cheque for the healthcare workers to hand over to the food bank, at a safe physical distance. About the length of a big cheque and two outstretched hand, that is.