Health-care auxiliary makes impact in Powell River

Economy Shop volunteers find friendship and fulfilling work

When it was formed in 1945, Powell River’s Hospital Auxiliary had 38 members and focused its efforts on patient comfort and care in the community. Now with a membership of more than 200 and a name change to Powell River Health-Care Auxiliary (PRHCA), the aims of the group remain much the same, although the financial impact is on a larger scale.

According to PRHCA president Phylliss Jacobsen, per capita, Powell River’s auxiliary is one of the most successful in the province.  

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“There are 82 auxiliaries in BC,” she said. “We’re between the third and fourth in donated monies per year.”

The success is due to the exceptional tradition of volunteerism in the community, and the generosity of its residents, said Jacobsen.

“The outpouring of donations from Powell River is unbelievable,” she added.

The best part is that all funds raised by the auxiliary through its Economy Shop and gift shop at Powell River General Hospital are dispersed within the community, said store manager Louise Fribance.

“The beauty of the Economy Shop is everything we raise here stays in Powell River; it goes to people here,” she added.  

Last year the group donated $552,000. Funds have gone to Powell River General Hospital, Evergreen Care Unit, Willingdon Creek Village and Powell River Therapeutic Riding Association. Programs include a Red Cross Help Office, free television for patients, candy stripers and more.

“What our auxiliary does is beneficial to all of us,” said Jacobsen.

It is not just a good deal that has customers and volunteers returning to the Economy Shop, but the friendly atmosphere as well, added Jacobsen.

“It’s like a family here,” she said.

When she moved to Powell River 10 years ago from Alberta, she discovered the store as a shopper, but soon became a volunteer.

“I’m retired but I couldn’t stay at home by myself; I had to have some kind of companionship,” said Jacobsen. “I come once a week here and I just have the time of my life.”

Member Evelyn Lawrence has been a volunteer at the shop for 20 years. She recently celebrated her 86th birthday, which happened to fall on one of her work days, and was surprised by a home-baked cake and party at the shop.

“These are all my friends,” said Lawrence. “One girl picks me up and takes me home every time on Tuesday and Thursday.”

Those who are unable to come into the shop have the option to contribute by working on projects in their homes. For volunteers who do come in, friendship and fun awaits.  

“We’ve had people find love here,” said Jacobsen. “There are a couple of instances where two members have hit it off and now they’re partners.”

The Economy Shop is always looking for more volunteers, according to Jacobsen. Those interested can find an application at or in the store at 7030 Alberni Street.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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