Alexandra Club folds after 119 years of service
SEAN CHASE/DAILY OBSERVER As its final act, the Alexandra Club of Pembroke is donating $90,000 to support hospice/palliative care under Carefor Health and Community Services. In the photo (left to right) are Carefor director Stewart Ray, Carefor operations director Steve Perry, Alexandra Club members Jean Ostrom, Sandra Sell, Sandy Giesebrecht, club president Lois Moss, and Matt Bradley, chairman of the Pembroke Petawawa District Community Foundation.
The Alexandra Club of Pembroke, one of the oldest, most consequential organizations in the community, is no more.
Faced with an aging and dwindling membership, the affiliation voted in May to fold after 119 years devoted to enhancing health care in the area.
“There were very mixed emotions,” said club president Lois Moss. “It is sad but it is exciting to see what will be coming out of it.”
The formal announcement of the club's dissolution was made at last Thursday's annual general meeting of the Pembroke Petawawa District Community Foundation. As its last act, the Alexandra Club will be entrusting the charity organization with $90,000 which will go towards a major palliative care project being undertaken by Carefor Health and Community Services.
“The Alexandra Club has made a decision in its wisdom to dissolve,” said foundation chairman Matt Bradley. “They have a phenomenal legacy in this community and they have done outstanding service to the community.”
Established in 1896 as an auxiliary for the fledgling Pembroke Cottage Hospital, the group adopted its formal name in 1902 to honor the newly crowned Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII. Originally tasked with providing linens for hospital beds and other supporting services, the club soon engaged in fundraising. In 1953, they opened a tuck shop to serve the needs of the patients. Throughout the years, the club contributed money for the purchase of critical equipment, such as a cardiac defibrillator, beds and x-rays machines, and nightgowns and uniforms.
When the Pembroke Civic Hospital closed its doors in 1997, the club continued its mission as an auxiliary under Carefor Community Health Care. They have also donated money to the Pembroke Regional Hospital, Pembroke Handi Bus, Mirimachi Lodge, Festival Hall, St. Joseph's Food Bank, Salvation Army, Vincent De Paul soup kitchen and the Pembroke waterfront project. The club also sponsored a nursing lab in the new Algonquin College waterfront campus to the tune of $100,000.
When it was first incorporated, the club had 20 members and was by invitation only. By 1967, it had grown to 262 members. However, over the past year it had dropped from 104 members to 70.
“We could see it going down,” said Moss.
This difficult decision was not made quickly. Moss said the membership had discussed it at great length over the past few months with her consulting some of the longest serving members. The $90,000 donation to the foundation is a result of funds entrusted to the club by the Supple estate, one of the founding families of the Cottage Hospital.
“For the Alexandra Club, they are leaving a substantial legacy in the community and they feel very comfortable about their decision.” added Bradley.
Steve Perry, director of operations for Carefor Pembroke-Renfrew County, acknowledged this funding will support a major palliative care initiative Carefor is planning for the Marguerite Centre in Pembroke.
“The support the Alexandra Club has shown to our organization and to the community in general has been so important over the years,” said Perry. “We're honoured that we are being entrusted to follow that legacy that matters a vision we have for palliative care.”
Moss said that this is a fitting organization for the Alexandra Club to make as its final contribution to the community.
“We were very involved in palliative care back then so this is very fitting,” she said.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist