A Passionate Pioneer Leaves a Legacy
Director of Philanthropy
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation
Ellen Kennett grew up on a farm in Cloverdale when roads were gravel, phones were scarce, neighbours knew and helped each other through good times and bad —and the closest hospitals were in New Westminster
In 1948 when the White Rock Hospital Society formed to build a hospital, the close-knit community rolled up their collective sleeves and got to work. Their ambitious fundraising goal was $150,000 — at the time, a staggering amount. “It was one third the cost of the hospital,” Ellen recalls, “and a requirement of the provincial government.”
When the White Rock District Hospital opened in 1954, Ellen remembers a feeling of real ownership of that first little hospital, and one she has taken to heart ever since.
In the 1960s Ellen volunteered with the Hospital Auxiliary’s Hilltop Group, of which she was President for several terms, then Vice-President of the main Auxiliary followed by President for four years – which also made her a voting member of the Peace Arch Hospital Board.
She became Chair of the Hospital Board in the mid-80s until the government disbanded hospital boards, and then she led the transition to the Peace Arch District Hospital Foundation. “We sought as much continuity as possible, and to maintain control over our fundraising dollars and how they would be spent.”
Like her community neighbours, Ellen and her husband Howard – who share a blended family of 10 children – have appreciated a good hospital close to home. Seven of their children were born at Peace Arch Hospital and, over the years, they have relied on treatment for appendix surgery, tonsillectomies and fractured collarbones.
As she thinks about the early pioneers who made the hospital a reality, and those who continue to ensure it offers quality care, she knows the tradition must continue.
Grateful for the care her family has received over the years, she and Howard have confirmed a gift in their wills for Peace Arch Hospital.
“We wanted to do this,” Ellen said. “Our children are educated and looked after, and while we are not a wealthy family, we know that no matter what the gift is, it will make a difference. It’s a good feeling and it’s so easy to do.”
“Every family, young and old, needs Peace Arch Hospital.”