On Tuesday night the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital Foundation came through on a promise made nearly 11 years ago.
Margaret Wade has been involved with the charitable foundation since its November 2007 beginning. Back when it launched, she said, the foundation heard a special request from donors.
“Many excellent donors had asked if it was possible to have a memorial tree,” she explained. “We thought about it for a long time. And about two years ago, we asked Alberta Health Services if they would donate a wall to us, which they promptly did. And that's the memorial wall that you see as you come in the front door of the hospital.”
Each leaf on the memorial tree, unveiled for the first time to a crowd of about 100 people on Tuesday, bears the name of a donor or loved one who has passed away.
"The names on the wall were individuals who themselves had made arrangements to donate to the hospital or at the time of their service, the family asked if donations could be sent to the foundation," Wade said.
Since 2007, the foundation has received 2,958 memorial donations totalling $270,128. Memorial donations are kept separate from the foundation’s other funds, with some of the money earmarked for special projects as well as educational scholarships for hospital staff.
In his comments to the crowd, hospital foundation chair Ken Jackson called Wade the “driving force” behind the memorial tree project. He added that the tree, meant to help people say goodbye to loved ones, had grown beyond expectations.
"It's taken on a life of its own. I believe that any project done with passion, hard work and the desire to make a difference will succeed. And this is one of our successes.”
The tree bears about 125 names so far, with room for up to 700 or more.