When COVID-19 began to peak in British Columbia, Jane Adams and her team at Surrey Hospital Foundation were unsure what to expect. In a region experiencing mass layoffs and shuttered storefronts they were certain philanthropy was the furthest thing from the minds of their community members. As a charity that relies on donations to support Fraser Health’s largest hospital, there was worry.
“We were concerned,” explained Jane Adams, President & CEO of Surrey Hospital Foundation. “As one of the provincially appointed COVID-19 centres, we knew unprecedented support would be requested of us. At the same time we were hearing from our donors that they were closing their businesses down, and that affects not only the business community but the residents who were losing incomes. We were very unsure how things would look for the Foundation.”
It started on March 15th with one call. A donor who had friends that worked at Surrey Memorial Hospital called the Foundation to donate $500 to provide free coffees for the frontline workers. This was shared on social media and within minutes, another donor emailed wanting to do the same. This second donor, Lucky Atwal of NewWave Lending, also offered to donate his team’s office space near the hospital, to use as a testing site, a storage facility, or whatever the hospital team needed it for. The offers of help and generous donations began to come in slowly, and then quickly as Surrey came together to support their hospital.
Donations of $15 to $10,000 from individuals wanting to help have collectively supported Meals of Thanks and 24/7 Snack Bin programs for thousands of health care workers throughout April and May. Surrey Hospital Foundation team has worked tirelessly with dozens of local vendors to nourish those working so hard to fight this disease, day and night. Even during this tough time for business, every food vendor has discounted their prices 30-70%; some even continue to donate everything for free. By the end of May, 8,400 sponsored cups of coffee, 13,500 meals and 100,000 snacks were provided to frontline workers.
Donors have also helped the Foundation to begin purchasing equipment identified by the hospital team to support COVID-19 care during the pandemic, and for future care. Surrey Hospital Foundation continues to fundraise to provide the required vein finders, defibrillators, ultrasound machines, and other supportive equipment, totalling over $750,000.
Businesses and other organizations have come forward by the dozen, offering financial support and in-kind donations. World Financial Group rallied their executives to give $55,000 to the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Long-time Foundation supporter Bob Hans donated $30,000 in the spirit of Vaisakhi, toward the purchase of a defibrillator. Sabzi Mandi grocery stores donated $5,000 and are running an in-store campaign to raise funds.
- Heated jackets for the Emergency staff screening patients outside 24/7
- Baby monitors for nurses to communicate with one another while in an isolation room.
- Tablets for patients to keep in touch with loved ones and to facilitate virtual rehabilitation.
Many other similar donations are helping to enhance care during this pandemic. TELUS Future Friendly Foundation donated $25,000 toward a clinical research study led by the Head of the Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and the Foundation has committed $150,000 to other COVID-19 related research, too.
Residents have found creative ways to support their hospital, too. Virtual walkathons and Zumbathons have been held to raise funds; students have written heartfelt letters of encouragement to frontline workers. In a time where we haven’t been able to gather to celebrate important occasions, many residents are making donations in their loved one’s honour instead. When Subeg Natt was unable to celebrate his 5th birthday with his extended family, the Atwal and Natt families donated $10,000 to the Foundation, toward the purchase of a Vein Finder – an essential piece of equipment used in the Emergency Department.
As our communities continue to deal with COVID-19, the Foundation’s current focus is funding research studies and equipment purchases, as well as the other projects already underway, including the complete renewal of the surgical centre at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
“COVID-19 has created new needs at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, and requests for support continue to be identified,” says Adams. “We will continue to work with our incredibly generous community to support the hospital. My team and I couldn’t be more proud to support the incredible health care professionals here in Surrey, on behalf of such a caring, proud community.”
To learn more about Surrey Hospital Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit surreyhospitalfoundation.com.