Hospital staff and a representative from the South Cariboo Health Foundation pose on one of ten new benches found around the South Cariboo Health Centre. The benches were funded by the health foundation and are now available for purchase as a memorial to a loved one or in honour of a group. Back left: James Munroe, Becky Pincott, Taralynn Leclair and Chrystal Stewart. Front left: William Holyk, Brenda Devine and Natalie Kulwk. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Memorial benches available for purchase

Health foundation replacing decaying hospital benches

On a beautiful fall day, patients and staff alike could be seen lounging outside, on ten new benches around the South Cariboo Health Centre.

The last of the new memorial benches was installed on Sept. 18 by facilities staff as part of a collaboration between them and the South Cariboo Health Foundation.

The foundation is funding the benches, after William Holyk, the plant services supervisor, approached them with the request.

“The old ones were 17 years old and they were basically fir so the wood was getting old obviously,” says Holyk. “The maintenance cost to keep them up in a state where they could sit out in front of a public place was high.”

The health foundation board got behind the request, purchasing recycled plastic benches that are made to last.

The benches were transported by Steve Brown, of the Interlakes Rona, from Langley to 100 Mile House for free, to which the foundation extends a huge thank you.

Now, as part of a fundraising effort by the foundation to pay for the benches as well as glean a small amount extra for their other hospital purchases, families and individuals can purchase one of the benches for $1,400.

“The little bit of money that we make on it it goes back to buying things at the hospital so it passes on a little bit more than just buying a bench,” says Brenda Devine, public relations and fundraising manager for the South Cariboo Health Foundation.

The purchase comes with a plaque that can be filled in with a quote or some words in honour of a loved one or an expression of gratitude.

So far, five have been purchased, including one in honour of the volunteers who helped during the summer’s wildfires.

“It represents the health and welfare of the staff to be able to come out here and be on proper stable [bench] and also the patients,” says Devine.

“We have acute and residential [patients] at Fischer Place and Mill Site. There are some of them up there that could be wheeled out or come out for the fresh air. When they were dilapidated, nobody would want to sit out here and put themselves in harms way.”

While the benches are a little different than the foundation’s usual purchases — normally they buy equipment the hospital needs — Devine stresses that they are important for both patient and staff health.

“I think what’s good about it is that we have the staff itself of this hospital have seen how important it is for themselves. It gives them something. It’s not just about another peice of equipment, it’s something for them.”

There are a total of 22 benches around the site that need to be replaced, says Devine.

If this project goes well, she says the board may look into continuing the project in an upcoming year.

In the meantime, there are some new “comfortable” (as one staff member remarked) places to sit around the centre.

If you’re interested in purchasing a bench, contact the health foundation at 250-706-2101.

“We were absolutely tickled pink that they would fund that for us,” says Holyk.

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