Today, on International Volunteer Day, the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) Auxiliary made a landmark $1-million donation to help people get the care they need, when they need it, at RVH.

“We are incredibly proud to announce that we are able to make a $1-million donation to RVH Foundation’s Keep Life Wild campaign, which includes helping to fund the future and much-needed expansion of the health centre’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” said Lise McCourt, president, RVH Auxiliary. “These funds were raised through the loyal support and hard work of our volunteers and all who participated in our fundraising activities, including our wildly successful Community 50/50 draws.”

There are a million reasons to celebrate today as the RVH Auxiliary makes a $1-million donation to the Keep Life Wild campaign. (l-r) RVH Foundation Board Chair Paul Larche; RVH Foundation Campaign Co-chair Mary-Anne Frith; RVH Auxiliary President Lise McCourt; RVH President and CEO Gail Hunt; and RVH Foundation CEO Pamela Ross hold the cheque while enthusiastic volunteers from the RVH Auxiliary’s Blue Brigade cheer.

International Volunteer Day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as a day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. The RVH Auxiliary began in 1897 when a group of volunteers saw the need to raise funds to support the purchase of bed linens and other supplies for patients at the hospital. To date, the RVH Auxiliary, known affectionally as the Blue Brigade because of their blue volunteer vests, has raised over $15 million for patient care and donated immeasurable gifts of time and kindness. 

In addition to her role as an Auxiliary leader, McCourt is also a patient-facing volunteer. She wants the community to know about the important role volunteers play in the healing experience of patients and families.

“Patients rely on us for a helping hand, a reassuring smile when they are feeling scared or worried, and for our kind words during difficult times,” she explains. “I am proud of the impact our volunteers have on the lives of so many.”

The work of the Auxiliary volunteers is vital to the patient experience at RVH.

“After a two-and-a-half-year COVID hiatus, our volunteers are once again lighting up the hallways of the health centre with their smiles and iconic blue vests,” says Gail Hunt, RVH president and CEO. “We have relied on the Auxiliary’s assistance for 125 years and while their physical absence was felt throughout RVH, especially by our patients, they have continued to cheer us on and raise much needed funds.”

The Auxiliary will play a crucial role as the health centre expands to meet the growing needs of the region, pledging $5 million overall to the campaign to be raised and donated over the next several years.

“Today is a day to recognize the power of volunteerism, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the RVH Auxiliary for its ongoing dedication to the betterment of healthcare in our region,” said RVH Foundation CEO Pamela Ross. “Our Keep Life Wild campaign will raise $100 million to build a bigger health centre with more beds, reduced wait times and more specialized care closer to home. It’s because of supporters like the RVH Auxiliary that we can ensure world-class care is available for the communities RVH serves now, and into the future.”

Find out more about how RVH and its supporters like the RVH Auxiliary plan to keep life healthy and wild for Simcoe Muskoka at