April 16, 2018
Isabel Wildfong-Martin will be receiving her 30-year Long Service Award from LHSC’s Volunteer Services, recognizing her volunteer career with the LHSC Auxiliary.
April 15 to 21, 2018 is National Volunteer Week and the recognition is well deserved for the nearly 900 individuals who donate their time to help others at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Each year, LHSC's Volunteer Services holds an appreciation event where all volunteers are thanked for their work and those who have milestones over five years are recognized with a Long Service Award. This year 63 LHSC volunteers will be receiving long service award pins, starting from five years up to 30 years of service.
Isabel Wildfong-Martin has worn an incredible number of titles throughout her distinguished volunteer career with the LHSC Auxiliary.
“New opportunities come along and they bring new adventures. That’s what’s so interesting about volunteering!” she says.
Wildfong-Martin is being recognized with a 30-year Long Service Award from Volunteer Services for her work with the Auxiliary. But her commitment to serving patients and volunteering dates back almost 50 years to 1969, when she began volunteering with the Women’s Committee at the War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
“Back then, the volunteer Women’s Committee was invaluable to the children’s hospital,” recalls Wildfong-Martin. “We sewed, made pajamas for the children and quilts for cribs – we even laundered the bed linens! It was a really important contribution to the hospital.”
When she was invited to join the Women’s Committee in 1969, Wildfong-Martin was a teacher at War Memorial Children’s Hospital (WMCH). When she retired in 1989 she had become the Secretary for the Children’s group, a sub-committee that supported the Child Life program, purchasing toys and items staff needed to improve children’s care experiences.
In 1988 the LHSC Auxiliary invited the WMCH Women’s Committee to join them, and as a result of that partnership the Women’s Committee is now known as the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Group – a sub-committee of the LHSC Auxiliary.
In 1999, Wildfong-Martin joined the LHSC Auxiliary as Secretary. A year later she became the second vice president of southwest region (known as Region 1) of the Hospital Association of Auxiliaries of Ontario. She served on this regional auxiliary for 10 years, eventually serving as president and past-president.
After concluding her role on the regional committee, Wildfong-Martin returned to serve on the LHSC Auxiliary, becoming its president in 2010. Operated entirely by volunteers, the LHSC Auxiliary runs the four retail gift shops at University and Victoria Hospitals, as well as the HELPP lottery and flower shop. All of the proceeds are donated to London Health Sciences Foundation to support a project chosen by the Auxiliary and the HELPP Lottery group from a list of hospital needs.
“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve done to support LHSC,” says Wildfong-Martin. “As volunteers, our goal is to reach $10 million in donations by 2024 when we celebrate our 100th anniversary. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we are making a difference for patients.”
Over the years the Auxiliary has funded major projects including the Mother Baby Care Unit at Victoria Hospital, providing $1 million to support the Mental Health Care Transitional Age Project , refurbishing the operating rooms at University Hospital, and is currently providing $2.4 million to support Dr. Richard Kim’s personalized medicine clinic.
As she approaches her 50th year volunteering, Wildfong-Martin isn’t slowing down. Still working with Auxiliary Board on the Social Committee, she volunteers regularly at the Victoria’s Place gift shop which she helped to establish when it opened in 2011. She is currently the representative from the Auxiliary to the London Health Sciences Foundation Board, and is serving as president of the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Group which connects her to her volunteer beginnings.
“I saw how dedicated the women were to the children at War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and it certainly influenced me,” says Wildfong-Martin. The Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Group helps to buy Christmas gifts for paediatric patients, funds the Teddy Bear Picnic, and buys needed items for clinical areas.
Wildfong-Martin says that she has developed countless friendships over her 50 years volunteering. Several years ago she encouraged her husband, Lawrence Martin, to start volunteering and he now helps three days a week for the Auxiliary’s HELPP Lottery.
“We all work as one. It’s very rewarding to be a member of this Auxiliary,” she says.