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High optimism for Trees of Hope campaign

Thursday, 07 December 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

High optimism for Trees of Hope campaign
Cal Olson is one of the volunteers who maintain Windy Slopes Health Foundation’s Trees of Hope display. Located near Pincher Creek Health Centre, the colourful lights are a gentle reminder that donations are now being accepted for this year’s project. Forms for giving are available at the Shootin’ the Breeze office.   Photo by Brenda Shenton

High optimism for Trees of Hope campaign

By Auralea Boldt

“What Windy Slopes does is enhance the equipment and health programs for the Pincher Creek Health Centre,” Maggie Olson says over the phone.

Maggie is vice-chairperson of Windy Slopes Health foundation, and incredibly hard to peg down for an interview. It becomes apparent why, as she describes the non-stop weekend itinerary she has just completed over the last day and half, with her four grandchildren.

It seems a distinct possibility that she brings the same zest to her position with Windy Slopes as she does to her family life — especially when you consider the fundraising goals the foundation has been able to achieve in previous years.

Trees of Hope began 27 years ago, founded by the ladies’ auxiliary, who thought Christmas was the best time for this festive endeavour. The fundraiser makes the largest financial contribution to Windy Slope’s efforts each year, netting anywhere from $18,000 to $30,000 through corporate donations and generous support from residents of Pincher Creek, the surrounding municipal district, and local businesses.

Each year, Windy Slopes sets its sights on a worthy cause outside of the budget constraints of Pincher Creek Health Centre. Since 1998 the foundation has funded over $1 million in medical equipment and health programs for the centre.

Last year a large portion of donations went toward the labour room suite for equipment and upgrades.

This year Windy Slopes is focusing on a Muse electrocardiogram machine that would put the hospital on the map as part of a rural pilot program. The machine allows ECGs to be recorded and stored on the spot, then sent electronically to a physician or specialist anywhere in Alberta with Internet access.

“We will be the first rural hospital to have this capability,” Maggie says. “It’s just an awesome project to be able to help raise money for.”

Among the numerous benefits of the system, nurses can stay with their patients, rather than rush off to send the ECGs elsewhere, and doctors can receive ECGs on their cellphones.

“Even if the doctor is on call or has gone home for supper, the nurse can do the ECG, and they can see it right away,” Maggie says. “If it is something of concern, they can treat it immediately.”

Windy Slopes chooses equipment that will enhance the quality of care — in consultation with Pincher Creek Health Centre’s site manager, Jordan Koch.

The volunteer board of trustees ensures the money stays in Pincher Creek and is spent wisely.

“The equipment is very expensive,” Maggie says.

She credits Shell for its generous support of the foundation’s endeavours. Again this year, Shell has agreed to donate.

“We are very optimistic, with what we raise and Shell raises, we will be able to purchase this equipment,” Maggie says.

In its early years, the Trees of Hope campaign was marked by lights hung on a fence, or the health centre’s existing trees. Maggie says the current winter attraction was built 10 years ago by local welders from Boulder Metal, who donated the labour and materials.

“The rest was history,” Maggie says. She credits her husband, Cal Olson, Pete Schaurte and Jason Carney from Castle Ford, as well as Adam Carney, with doing all the lifting each year, a job she characterizes as heavy labour.

This year major repairs were done to the entire display, and labour was donated.

Colourful donation pamphlets are mailed out at the beginning of each holiday season, and can also be found at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, Pincher Creek Health Centre, the Royal Bank, Shootin’ the Breeze, ATB, Pincher Creek town office, H&R Block, Castle Ford, Vista Village, Whispering Winds and many other locations.

Those wishing to participate can send in a donation, or just take the form to the front desk at the hospital. A tax receipt will be issued upon request.

“Donations help ensure Pincher Creek and area residents continue to receive quality health care services,” Maggie says.

People can donate “in memory of,” or with a “Merry Christmas to.” The foundation also receives donations left in wills, or in lieu of flowers at funerals.

She recognizes that the community may not have as much to donate this year, due to the efforts to assist with Kenow fire and its aftermath.

“Large or small, we appreciate any donation, especially this time of the year,” Maggie says.

She wishes a Merry Christmas to all from Windy Slopes Health Foundation.

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Photo by Shannon Robison