Elks and Royal Purple donate $50,000 in support of new Victoria Hospital

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Vice Chair Ludwig Hesp, secretary Pat Warren, chair Art Young, treasurer Don Benier, Cody Barnett and Adam Pearson. The Elks and Royal Purple Charitable Fund donated $50,000 to the Boreal Healthcare Foundation in support of the Mental Health Unit on Friday, Feb, 23 at the Prince Albert Elks Lodge.

Local Elks and Royal Purple have been supporting the Victoria Hospital since 1986 through the Elks and Royal Purple Charitable Fund.

On Friday, Feb. 23, they continued that tradition by presenting a cheque for $50,000 to the Boreal Healthcare Foundation to support the Mental Health Unit.

The fund included local Elks and Royal Purple groups from Prince Albert, Canwood, Big River, and other local communities. Charitable fund chair Art Young of Canwood has been with the committee from the beginning.

“We have raised a lot of money and we’ve had a lot of people that have put a lot of effort into raising this money,” Young said. “I want to thank everybody that has taken part and all our workers.”

Boreal Healthcare Foundation CEO Cody Barnett saidit was quite remarkable to get a donation of this size so early in their fundraising for the new Victoria Hospital.

“The Elks and Royal Purple have been long-time supporters—over two decades worth of support that they’ve been providing into different parts of the hospital,” he said. “It’s really remarkable that they’re one of the first. They know the importance and it’s really incredible to see.”

The Elks and Royal Purple initially supported the hospital’s dialysis unit. When that stopped, the former Victoria Hospital Foundation approached them and asked if they were interested in continuing their fundraising, this time for the Mental Health Unit.

Fund representatives agreed after visiting the unit. The Committee then worked Bingo at Carnival Bingo to raise approximately $155,000 until 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic then put a stop to fundraising, but things are getting back on track. Young said they do 13 Bingos per year to raise funds including one per month.

“This year we made just short of $18,000,” Young said. “We have a few of them and our regular members work every month.

“I’m very proud of the people that will work and our ability to give back to the community,” he added.

Barnett said the committee has been putting in countless hours of volunteer work to raise this $50,000 to put into the Mental Health Unit.

“I’m grateful as a member of the community that they’re here doing that kind of work for us,” he said. “It shows that the hospital is important to more than just PA. Just the different communities that are involved with Elks Lodge, be it Canwood or Lac La Ronge, it is incredible to see how they value this hospital in particular.”

The money has already been earmarked for the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment.

“(It’s) everything from medical beds to specialized equipment that’s needed in the Mental Health unit,” Barnett said.

“One of the biggest ticket items I’ve seen is like new all new electric beds throughout the entire unit, like that’s a significant cost, so this this goes a long way.”

Barnett added that the Fund was an early adopter of supporting mental health in Prince Albert.

This is the fifth donation the Elks and Royal Purple have made. They have given a total of $180,000 (including Friday’s donation) to mental health as a club and organization.

The Fund was started in 1986 when a member of the Weldon Elks Lodge required dialysis and had to travel to Saskatoon for treatment.

They formed a committee at the next Elks District meeting to see what could be done.

That committee decided the Elks and Royal Purple could fund the capital cost of a treatment centre if the government funded staffing. The Committee was known as the Elks and Royal Purple Dialysis Fund Committee and scheduled one bingo per month and a large payout bingo on Boxing Day.

Young said that there are currently two Lodges in Canwood including Elks and Royal Purple.

“We were started in 1928,” Young said. “(In) another four years we’ll have 100 years, and PA has got been here for 102 years, so we’ve been around for a long time and we’ve been a prime mover of donations in our community as well as here.”

The member lodges for the Committee used to include Shellbrook and Paddockwood but both of those lodges have closed

The committee raised approximately $500,000 for the Renal Dialysis Unit at Victoria Hospital. The arrangement continued until 2015 when the province assumed all the costs of running the unit.

“I would just like to thank all the people that have worked for so many years,” Young said.

Barnett said that the estimated time of completion is Spring 2028 for the new tower. Construction began on Monday, Feb. 26.

“We’re still in early planning for our campaign,” Barnett said. “We know it’s going to be a significant fundraising campaign for the community, the largest public fundraising campaign in Northern Saskatchewan’s history.”