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HOMETOWN HEROES: Hospital Auxiliary volunteer dedicated

The G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital Auxiliary gift shop has reopened
Hospital Auxiliary volunteer JoAnn Houston holds up some of the items available for purchase inside the gift shop at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital. A card reader is hoped to soon be available giving customers an alternative method of payment to cash. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

Inside the G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital Auxiliary gift shop, you can find beautiful purses, soft hand-knitted baby items, cards, stuffed animals and sweet treats to brighten the day of a loved one or friend.

The gift shop operated by volunteers reopened last month after being closed for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On an early Monday morning, JoAnn Houston could be found greeting customers with a friendly hello and ringing up their purchases.

While some volunteers moved on to other things during the closure and have not returned, Houston remains dedicated to the role she had been involved with for nearly a year before the pandemic struck in March 2020.

This summer, Houston is not only involved with the gift shop but walks the hospital halls dispensing treats and items such as slippers and crossword puzzles from the auxiliary’s comfort cart to patients.

“I think they do an important thing here at the auxiliary, which has been around for years,” she said. “They buy all kinds of equipment for the hospital and support not only the patients but the staff as well.”

Houston was new to Quesnel after moving from Abbotsford and decided volunteering with the hospital auxiliary would be a great way to get to know the community further and give back.

Read More: Hospital Auxiliary volunteers a hardworking bunch

She meets new people daily and loves the social aspect of volunteering.

“It’s not a pleasant experience most of the time when you’re in the hospital,” Houston added.

“The staff are wonderful, but who wants to be in the hospital? So if you can make their stay a little bit more pleasant or support the visitors here, then it’s really good.”

Houston also helps out at the Quesnel and District Seniors’ Society and calls volunteering at both organizations a rewarding experience.

Hospital Auxiliary president Louis Beaulieu said he is happy they have been able to reopen to the public and that more volunteers are needed.

Beaulieu has been involved with the auxiliary for more than nine years and was named the 2017 Quesnel Volunteer Citizen of the Year.

“I like to participate in the community and help others —that’s the way I like to live my life,” he said, noting he is also involved with the Baker Creek Enhancement Society and the Quesnel Lions Club.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Hospital Auxiliary in G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital can pick up an application form from the gift shop. A criminal record check is required.

Beaulieu said the hospital auxiliary would be participating in this year’s Billy Barker Days at the Gold Dust Mall, where they will be available for the public to learn more.

Read More: Donations lead to new equipment at G.R. Baker

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