Funds were raised and the contributions of the community were celebrated at this year’s Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust Gala.
Long regarded as the soiree of Williams Lake, the annual Gala held at Sacred Heart Elementary this year sold out months in advance. Bringing together long-time hospital donors, members of the community and the medical professionals of lakecity, it was a night of good cheer, good food and good company.
The entirety of the school’s gymnasium was expertly turned into a space reminiscent of a pavilion, with soft overhead lighting providing a gentle ambience. Bidding, both live and silent, was lively on everything from modern art to an intricate trunk based table.
CJ’s Southwestern Grill catered the event with prime roast, mashed potatoes, rice and an entire buffet that was readily devoured by the hundreds in attendance. At the end of the night gala favourite band, March Hare took the stage by storm getting dozens on the dance floor within a single song.
The Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust board members couldn’t be happier with how the night, and the last year of fundraising, turned out. Tammy Tugnum said the event was practically sold out even before tickets went on sale, with reservations being made as far back as June.
Tugnum and the rest of the board wanted it to be known they have a partnership with the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District. Every time they put in an application to raise money to purchase a piece of hospital equipment the CCRHD fund matches, 60 per cent from the Trust and 40 per cent from the CCRHD.
“If the piece of equipment is $100,000 we only have to raise $60,000 if the CCRHD authorizes the other 40 per cent to come from them,” Tugnum said. “We just want people to know that. I think as long as we’ve been in existence we keep explaining that to people that money donated through us is actually very beneficial to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital, because of the matching funds that come from the CCRHD.”
Another long-time board member, Carol-Ann Taphorn agreed with this sentiment saying that in the past people have donated money through the hospital in Kamloops. Even if a donor wants the money to be used in Williams Lake, it has to go through Kamloops first and by the time it reaches Williams Lake fund matching cannot be applied to the sum.
Joy Hennig advised those wishing to contribute to the purchase of hospital equipment should do so through the foundation, or directly at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital itself.
“The hospital secretaries at the front are pretty good, if they take money they do get it to us,” Taphorn said. “I do get e-mails saying ‘There’s money up here’ but the donors have to specify that it’s for the foundation.”
Tugnum also wanted it to be clear that, unlike other originations in town, the foundation raises money purely for hospital equipment over $100,000. According to her, doctors at the hospital always have an equipment wish list and the foundation tries to work their way through each year.
“We’ve bought equipment for the emergency department, the maternity ward, the surgical theatre as well as supplying both the CT Scanners, the echocardiogram and both the mammography units,” Tugnum said.
Just before the gala, the foundation finally raised enough money to buy the haematology analyzer they’ve been working towards in recent months. Their next project, according to Richard Nelson, was an ultrasound unit to replace the antiquated one currently in service.
Nelson said it’s a unit that already sees a lot of use and that the purchase of a replacement will reduce travel to other hospitals and, as with all the new units they purchase, encourage professional medical workers to make Williams Lake their home.
The night’s success, however, exceeded their wildest dreams. In a single night, the gala raised $117,000 between ticket sales, auctions and donations from the crowd, including $25,000 from the Hothi family. The new ultrasound unit just approved for purchase earlier this month, is now fully funded and ready to order.
The entire board extend their thanks to the community for all the support they’ve received over the years and at this most recent gala.
“We are but the vessel and if we didn’t have the support of the community we couldn’t do anything that we currently do,” Tugnum said.