SHAVA provides the added touch for 45 years

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Mary Bondarevich joined the Sturgeon Hospital Auxiliary 45 years ago at the pleading of several friends, who asked her to come along with them to the inaugural meeting for the organization.

“Friends talked me into that first meeting. The auxiliary was started in 1969. Our first meeting was in the Youville Home before the first Sturgeon Hospital (on McKenney Avenue) was built. The hospital didn’t get built until 1970,” Bondarevich said.

SHAVA will celebrate its 45th anniversary May 5, beginning at 7 p.m. The event will take place in the hospital cafeteria and present and former members are invited to attend.

As she looked back at those early days, Bondarevich remembered how innovative auxiliary members were and how much fun they had together.

“To get the auxiliary start-up money, someone living on a farm donated an electric deep fryer for a raffle,” she recalled.

The auxiliary members raised $300 from the raffle and that gave them enough money to start purchasing materials such as wool and craft materials so that knick-knacks could be hand made and sold in the gift shop.

“We did well. I’d buy the wool, then take it to the house where someone had agreed to knit. Then later I’d pick up the knitted items to be sold in the shop. It was important because the people who stayed at home, or were not able to go out, still felt they were contributing and their donations were an important part of the gift shop,” Bondarevich said.

Since 1969 there have been changes to both the Sturgeon Community Hospital and the auxiliary that supports it but the fundraising group’s motto is still the same: to provide the added touch.

The organization is now called SHAVA (Sturgeon Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer Association) with the emphasis placed on the word “volunteer.”

“It was a ladies auxiliary to start with but over the years more men began volunteering and we needed them, especially in the book store,” SHAVA’s president, Jackie White.

The first year after the original Sturgeon opened, the auxiliary donated $1,500 back to the hospital.

“We purchased a Christmas tree for the top of the hospital and televisions for the lounges,” Bondarevich said, as she recalled that in the first year, the hospital was short of sheets.

“The auxiliary members cut the ones they had and sewed them with a seam down the middle to make enough sheets for all the beds,” she said.

Each year SHAVA presents its budget to the hospital and the department managers submit a wish list of things that need to be purchased.

“Over the years we have purchased medical equipment and lab equipment. SHAVA funded all the equipment for the trauma room and supplied gifts for kids who are in the hospital. We supplied the fish tank and paid for artists’ murals and we even purchased a tractor for the grounds crew,” said White.

During SHAVA’s last fiscal year, from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 the auxiliary had 250 volunteers, who contributed 22,957 hours. SHAVA was able to donate $145,000 back to the hospital.

“With those funds the hospital purchased 126 night stands and over-bed tables. The old tables were badly in need of replacement,” said White.

Last year the SHAVA bookstore in Grandin mall raised $69,000.

“You can see that the bookstore raises the lion’s share of our funds. I’ve been at many meetings with Amacon, the owners of Grandin mall, and thanks to their kindness, we are staying right where we are. Because the rent is donated to us, and the books are donated and the SHAVA members do all the work, we can donate everything we raise back to the hospital,” said White.

Auxiliary members now volunteer in a host of different ways from patient visitations, to working in the bookstore or the gift shop, to the PARTY program for teens, to providing emergency-room navigation to patients entering the hospital and even to pet therapy visits.

“We are always looking for ways to raise funds and we are always looking for new members,” said Betty-Lynn Zukewich, the Sturgeon Hospital’s volunteer coordinator.

For more information about volunteering with SHAVA phone Betty-Lynn Zukewich at 780-418-7375.

If you are a past or present member of SHAVA and would like to attend the 45th anniversary celebrations, please phone Zukewich or the gift shop at 780-418-8220.

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About Author

Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.