A sense of inclusive philanthropy is creating a movement in Prince Edward County, as this storied community joins together to Back the Build. The largest fundraising campaign in the County’s history is supporting the construction of the new Quinte Health Care Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital, and as well as a new health care facility, it is designed to build relationships.
“Everyone loves the County for their own reasons,” says Shannon Coull, Executive Director of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF). She includes the descendants of the pioneer families who established farms and families and industries; the newcomers who uprooted their own foundations to answer the call of the County; and the visitors who make the County their destination for a day or a week. “My dream is to have the hospital bring us even closer together. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or how long you’ve been here, the hospital is for you. It’s an undeniable common denominator.”
The ethos of the PECMHF’s volunteer board of directors reaches deep and wide. They have been chosen to be a diverse and true representation of the community. “They realize it’s a huge responsibility to nurture exceptional health care,” continues Shannon, “and we all know we’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.”
“We want to build multigenerational relationships. We want them to know what they are giving now will make a difference to this community in 50 years.” SHANNON COULL
Some of the members were born in the current hospital, and this unique connection inspires them to make sure everyone has access to a well-equipped hospital focused on quality care.”
Fundraising during a pandemic caused Shannon some concern, but she quickly discovered the resiliency of the County – and the need to help. “People are desperate to make an impact and a difference, to continue to do good even during the most stressful times. Philanthropy is a way to help people move through the healing process, and we opened that opportunity.”
Shannon echoes one of the Foundation’s core beliefs. “Philanthropy is not the transaction of a donation and a tax receipt. It facilitates action and impact and relationships. Our goal is to learn what motivates people and create a method for them to help. We want to build multigenerational relationships. We want them to know what they are giving now will continue to make a difference to this community in 50 years.”
Picton built its first hospital in 1919. It included nine beds and an operating room in the George Alcorn House on Hill Street. The current 66,000 sq. ft. incarnation replaced it in 1959. The Foundation hopes to open the new facility – which will be nearly twice as large – in 2027, with a fundraising minimum of $16.5 million. That amount will build a fully functional leading-edge facility that aligns with current codes and infection-control standards. “We’re starting to look at what we can build beyond that in terms of environmental sustainability enhancements,” Shannon explains. “It’s too early to know what that looks like exactly. The good news is we have time to explore and bring in new concepts.” As needs are identified and new ways to contribute develop, Shannon is noticing an evolution of philanthropy. One illustration of this progression stems from a conversation she had with Scott Wentworth, owner of the Picton-based, award-winning Wentworth Landscapes.
“Landscaping is Scott’s expertise, and he understands his way to Back the Build might be a gift in kind. He’s making that contribution long before a shovel goes in the ground for the new hospital.”
Scott Wentworth, a recognized leader in the landscaping profession, seized the opportunity to launch the national Hope is Growing campaign at the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital. “This is an elegantly simple way to focus our individual and collective expressions of hope,” he explained to Prince Edward County council. “An abiding sense of hope is essential to the human spirit, and as our communities move through this time of COVID, hope has an even greater social importance.
Hope also has a colour and will become tangible as Wentworth Landscapes plants the first Garden of Hope at the hospital this year. The yellow perennials and shrubs from that garden will be the nursery for gardens at the new hospital, carrying the multi-generational theme to another level.
Scott understands these last two growing seasons have seen a surge in people reconnecting with nature, the outdoors, and their gardens. He also sees this as an opportunity for the landscape profession to continue its stewardship by leading clients, communities, and teams to understand how fulfilling the natural world can be.
The Garden of Hope is truly a community effort that’s becoming global: launched in Prince Edward County, but already attracting interest across Canada and from several European countries. As gardens across the County and beyond become awash with yellow, Scott realizes small acts lead to big changes.
“Hope is fundamental to moving us forward.” The first Hope is Growing garden can be seen at the hospital entrance.
Shannon Coull has been working on the Back the Build fundraising campaign for more than three years, and has never doubted its success. She is fully onside with the Foundation’s approach. “We know people want to help, and even a dollar donated makes someone part of this. We all have the same belief: I love the County. I back the build. The hospital is the heart of the County.”