Mike Uncorked: Harvest for Health

The Valley Regional Hospital Foundation has a tasty new fundraiser
Mike Butler

Hillary Webb says “Jump” and I say “How High?”! For years, any project that Hillary has been involved in has been a huge success and I am always so honoured when she asks me to come aboard for her next adventure.

Hillary, of ‘Hill’s Grills’ fame, is the new fund development coordinator for events and community giving with the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation; she is responsible for coordinating and creating events that support whichever fundraising efforts are being conducted at that point in time, and to build on pre-existing relationships and develop new ones with members, organizations, and businesses within our community. 2020 has been tough to say the least but Hillary has come up with a fantastic new fundraiser for the VRHF and I am so thrilled to tell you about it.

A little background: in 1985, the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation was formed to raise $8 million from the community to build Valley Regional Hospital; the provincial government provided the remaining 75% of the cost. Since that time, the VRH Foundation has continued to put together initiatives to increase the access and quality of healthcare to the communities they serve. With an average of over 200,000 annual patient visits and the increasing demand for care from an aging population, connections to primary health care and specialty services are essential. Through the generosity of thousands of donors, the VRH Foundation has provided over $16 million to improve healthcare for residents of Kings and Annapolis Counties. Over the past few years, the Foundation provided funding for new and updated equipment, chaplaincy services, and the Family Practice Residency Program. It’s a win-win for all of us whenever this foundation has a fundraiser.

“My passions are building and cultivating relationships and supporting causes that build a long-lasting and sustainable community,” Hillary says. “I’m on a number of boards of directors in our community and have had the incredible opportunity of owning my own business in the Kentville area. The fact that I get to do this now as a full-time career is a dream come true! While we ourselves don’t save lives (we leave that to the doctors, nurses, and paramedics), our fundraising efforts provide equipment for the people who do save lives, and we take that job very seriously. I work with a fantastic team: Angela Mansfield is the best office manager I’ve ever seen, Ellen Crowley, our executive director, is an energetic leader who steers our ship in the right direction, and Gary Caven brings all of our ideas to life (while being quite creative himself). I love our team!”

The VRH’s latest fundraiser is one Hillary is incredibly excited about and you will be as well. November is typically one of the dreariest months of the year. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s wet: blah! It’s also coming to the end of harvest season, where fresh, locally-grown produce is in abundance, and COVID-19 has taken away many of the fun harvest celebrations that we’d typically have at this time of year. Our region is gaining its economic strength back and we’ve also developed a strong tourism culture here in the Annapolis Valley, based on a thriving food and beverage industry. We like to eat well, and we know how to eat well! That philosophy birthed the foundation’s latest initiative: Harvest for Health.

Hillary explained, “Harvest for Health is launching every Thursday night for the month of November. It’s a series of virtual cooking classes taught by renowned and local celebrity chefs. This year’s featured chefs are Chef Jason Lynch of Le Caveau, Chef Chris Pyne of Founders House, Chef Daniel Frank of Troy, and Chef Peter Dewar, head of the culinary program at NSCC. Each chef will be featuring a key ingredient sourced from the Annapolis Valley in their dishes of the evening, to showcase fun and innovative ways to use our fantastic produce. We are featuring squash, peaches, carrots, apples, and the ever versatile onion on this year’s menu!” Sound yummy? Wanna be a part of the action? Here’s how!

Classes are $50/each and participants can purchase any or all classes! If purchasing all four classes, a bonus episode will be released just in time for Christmas! The cooking classes will be available by sign-up only through the VRH Foundation’s website, starting on October 16. After the live launch of an episode, participants will get a copy of the video for their personal use, or, if they aren’t able to tune in on Thursdays, can host their own cooking evening that weekend on their own time. Win-Win-WIN! Follow the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation on Facebook, go to the website at vrhfoundation.ca, or email Hillary at hillary@vrhfoundation.ca.

This whole initiative is raising funds for a C-Arm. The C-Arm allows for live-time imaging during orthopedic surgeries, pacemaker insertions and some vascular exams. By providing surgeons with image guidance and immediate information on the placement of surgical implants, the entire surgical process is improved and patient safety is enhanced. Who wouldn’t want that for themselves and loved ones?

And if the Harvest For Health doesn’t seem like your thing to contribute to, there’s always other fundraisers to look for in the coming weeks. The VRHF 50/50 Monthly Lottery is available on their website: purchase your tickets today to win 50% of the pot, every month! The remaining proceeds go towards VRHF initiatives. They will also be putting on their Festival of Lights, the traditional fall/winter donor fundraiser starting in November, and they’ll be hosting another Christmas-themed virtual campaign called the 12 Days of Christmas throughout December. Check their website, vrhfoundation.ca, for more details!

And my connection to Harvest for Health? Well, every cooking show needs a celebrity host, right? Tune in and help out! Thank you!