Tanya Laing Gahr
T here are some people for whom a job is more than position, or a career, or a place you go to for eight hours a day. For some people, it’s a purpose ~ a role that takes as much as it gives. It’s as much passion as it is duty.
For Donna Grainger, who is retiring after 10 ¾ years with East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH), the passion, the duty, the purpose, the giving and taking ~ and the people ~ are why her time as administrator and then executive director of EKFH were less career, more calling.
Donna has been with EKFH since June 2005. The foundation provides funding to the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and other community health facilities in complementing the health care needs of the region.
“The work that the foundation does literally changes people’s lives ~ including those of us who serve the foundation,” said Donna. “The EKFH is committed to the region and all areas of care, and the people who make up the foundation are committed to making a difference to others and each other.”
It was a difficult decision to retire but Donna said that she’s ready to spend some time travelling, taking up some new interests, being with her husband and becoming more mindful about her own health. She also believes that every role requires fresh energy, insight and ideas and that her retirement will provide new opportunities for EKFH.
In her role with EKFH, Donna has been responsible for or involved with almost every aspect of operations for the foundation, including administration, marketing and fundraising. And during her tenure Donna has succeeded in increasing the visibility of the foundation as well as its involvement with the communities in the East Kootenay. The key to this is Donna’s belief that the foundation’s key role is building and maintaining relationships rather than hunting for dollars.
This philosophy has helped EKFH succeed in many innovative initiatives over the last number of years. Along with raising the profile of the foundation throughout the region, Donna has been involved with or led important projects such as the completion of a campaign for a mobile MRI, the Invermere Emergency Department Redevelopment Project, A Clear View campaign for a digital stereotactic mammography unit, the ICU Redevelopment Campaign; and currently the 8th annual Starlite Campaign which she states is one of the most rewarding and memorable initiatives in her time with EKFH.
Although she takes great satisfaction in the success of all these projects, the digital stereotactic mammography campaign stands out to her for two reasons. First, the two-year foal of $1 million was reached 13 months ahead of schedule. And, more personally, because the Faces of the Campaign ~ in which women from the East Kootenay who had been diagnosed with breast cancer shared their stories of struggle, hope and survival ~ connected real people in the region to the initiative. And at the end of the day, it was the stories of the people whose lives were affected by the work of the foundation that had the most impact on Donna.
As executive director, Donna met with local, provincial and federal politicians. She often conferred with other directors of foundations, business owners and organizational chairs. She worked closely with members of the Kootenay ICE and local celebrities in several projects to raise awareness and funds for the foundation. All of these people brought great value to her work with EKFH, but it was often the people who flew under the radar that caught Donna’s attention and regard.
“So many of the people who stand out to me in the last 10 ¾ years are the dreamers, the believers, the supporters, the leaders, the caregivers ~ those that know the true meaning of giving from the heart, for the cause and for others,” said Donna. “These are the men and women who are dedicated to sharing their talents in various fields of health care, the EKFH board and my colleagues ~ compassionate and caring people ~ who deserve praise.”
The relationships and connections Donna has made throughout her time with EKFH have sustained her professionally and personally. When her parents passed away in a short time frame, she found herself lifted up by the people associated with the foundation that she had worked alongside and in support of. When she retires, it is the warmth of these relationships that she will take with her.
“I am so grateful for the kindness, support and generosity others have bestowed on me after the loss of my parents, the challenges of my own health journey with Type 1 diabetes and the times just when you don’t think you are making a difference,” said Donna. “You find yourself in the eyes of those standing in front of you, in the hugs of happiness and loss and those unspoken acts of kindness that take your breath away. I’ve held people in celebration and in loss and the impact and mark it leaves on my heart I really don’t think I could adequately describe. I have found myself being in the right place at the right time in my life’s purpose. I’m blessed.”
Donna’s last official day at EKFH will be 31 March. 2016. An executive search for her replacement is underway.