Celebrating 115 years of local care

In 2021, the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Middlesex-Elgin site is pleased to recognize 115 years of health care and community support services provided within our community.

Originally formed at a time when Canada faced a dangerous shortage of nurses, doctors and hospitals, especially in remote areas, VON has stood the test of time, providing care and support when and where needed.

Throughout the 20th Century, VON has helped communities across Canada during some of the most devastating periods in our country’s history – World War I, the horrific explosion of munitions ship in Halifax Harbour in 1917, the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918, the Great Depression and World War II.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, VON once again has answered the call. Staff and volunteers have worked through many challenges to adjust programs and services to ensure that some of our most vulnerable citizens stay safe, healthy and connected within their communities. During a time of such restrictions and physical distancing, these supports have played a very impactful role in positive mental health and well-being for so many.

As part of our celebration for the 115th Anniversary of VON Middlesex-Elgin, we recognized our donors for their dedication to our community, especially our long-time donors who have been sharing their caring support for more than a decade.

We reached out to our donors and shared our heartfelt gratitude through donor recognition cards. We also welcomed them to connect and share with us about how they are personally connected to VON and why they support so generously.

The feedback we received was wonderful. We heard from many donors who shared that they were truly grateful for the care that the VON teams had provided to their loved ones. We also heard from some of our past event participants, committee and Board volunteers, willing to share about their experiences with VON Middlesex-Elgin.

We were thrilled to hear from a very dedicated donor, John Fryer; who has made a significant contribution to VON Middlesex-Elgin and VON Canada through both his charitable giving and gift of time and expertise on the Board. John was a member of the VON Middlesex-Elgin Board from 1970 – 1990 and also supported committees with the VON Canada Board during his tenure.

In a recent meeting with John, he took us on a journey through the past few decades and the evolution of how VON Middlesex-Elgin has come to be what it is today. Previously an operational board, John shared that the site was approximately the seventh largest at the time. The main London office, located in a donated home on Dufferin Street housed approximately 20 nurses and some administrative staff. The Board was involved in everything from overseeing nursing care to securing transportation. A greatly used fleet of Volkswagen bugs filled the bill back in the day.

Each board member shared their time, talent and treasure and worked to support the VON team through board and committee roles and responsibilities including their participation in many fundraising and community events.

Fast forward to the implementation of the VON Foundation within Middlesex-Elgin and the move to the new site building on Florence Street, which too has evolved over time.

Over the years, as the demand for home care has continued to increase, local VON programs and services have grown to more than 50 offerings ranging from clinical home care to meals, transportation, exercise, safety checks, caregiver and bereavement support.

The staff and resources have also grown to ensure continued quality support for those in the community who need us. VON Middlesex-Elgin has become the largest VON site, with home care, community clinics and community and family support services reaching across the cities of London and St. Thomas and both Elgin and Middlesex Counties. VON is only able to provide these programs and services through a caring network of more than 1400 dedicated volunteers and a staff contingent of more than 900 based from sites in London, St. Thomas, Strathroy and Dorchester.

John shared many stories about his time as a Board volunteer with VON Middlesex-Elgin. He noted that many of the volunteers that worked with him or he helped recruit between the 1970’s and 1990’s continue to support VON to this day either as a volunteer, a donor, or both.

When asked why he chose to support VON originally and why he continues as a long-time donor, John stated that “it’s the people”. People want to be a part of VON to ensure that our loved ones, friends and neighbours continue to have access to the highest levels of quality care to ensure they live their best days at home for as long as they can. “People give to people, and that is what VON is all about.”

Looking forward, as the need for Long Term Care and home care continue to increase in priority at a time when health care has been propelled into greater connectivity through digital platforms, VON Canada has a plan. Over the next 4 years, all VON sites will be moving onto a digital health record for every client.

The introduction of the digital health record system will help enhance the experience for both our clients and their families. They will have access to real time records as well as the ability to access important information with respect to health appointments, medications and care plans.

Transitioning away from paper-based record systems will help reduce the number of administrative tasks and duplication of systems currently in place, allowing VON front-line staff to put the balance of their focus where it should be, on client care.

Finally, the new digital health record system will increase VON’s efficiency for collecting and reporting data, which will help us not only in tracking client care needs and trends, but also in sharing the impact of our work as well as the impact of investments from both funders and donors alike.

We are truly appreciative of the local support we receive annually, from our long-time donors like John and many others, to the new donors, who have recently learned about VON through services provided to a loved one. Your generous donations really have a positive impact and help people to live their best lives, every day.

As we move towards a much healthier and happier Holiday Season this year, we hope you will celebrate and spread some cheer by supporting the health and well-being of our community through VON programs and services. Please give today through the donate button on this page.

Best Wishes and Season’s Greetings to you and your family!

Kerry Blackwell

Manager, Fund Development

VON Middlesex-Elgin

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