Margaret Hobson

Since her early years, Margaret Hobson was introduced to volunteerism as a way of life. As a teenager living in Yorkshire, she spent her Sundays at the hospital with her father, helping patients through their daily routines, “That kept up until I reached a certain age and had to get a real job,” she explains, with false emphasis on the word ‘real.’ To her, volunteering is a job that provides every bit of value to life and community as anything that is attached to a paycheque.

After immigrating to Canada with her husband and two young children in 1967, Margaret worked until retirement in 1991. “I spent the first six months or so at home with my feet up,” recalls Margaret. “Then one day my husband came home from work and said ‘you have to get out of the house!’” She found the Auxiliary Association shortly after by talking to her neighbour who was working on starting a new Gift Shop in the Medicine Hat Hospital. It turned out that the Gift Shop had a full roster of volunteers, so Margaret was happy to help Alzheimer’s patients at the hospital until a Gift Shop position opened up.

“I spent my whole working life in retail so the gift shop was a really great place for me to be,” Margaret says today. Before she knew it, she was the Auxiliary Association Gift Shop Chairperson and was responsible for ordering and merchandising. From there, she spent six years as the Auxiliary Association President and a total of twenty-five years with the charitable group.

“In my first year with Auxiliary, we donated a few thousand dollars. In the hospital’s centennial year, 1989, we donated $100,000.” In total, Margaret estimates that she and her group of dedicated volunteers donated over one million dollars to the Medicine Hat Health Foundation through the Gift Shop, raffles, fundraising teas and other initiatives. Those funds purchased several beds for the Intensive Care Unit, as well as needed support for the NICU.

Over time, the Auxiliary Association numbers declined and the fundraising activities became harder to undertake for the ambitious, but aging group. The Gift Shop – which continues to be an important revenue generator – was handed over to the Health Foundation in 2010. The Auxiliary Association – with only five total members ranging in age between 70 and 92 – disbanded in November 2015.

But even with the disbandment, Margaret and her group have not slowed down. Two of them still volunteer one shift per week at the Gift Shop. For her, volunteering is a way to stay young, active, and helpful. “I’m going to keep doing this until I can’t drive anymore,” she laughs. Giving so much time to the Health Foundation is something she is happy to do, and encourages others to do the same.