Mary Thicket’s monthly donation to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation is her way of saying thanks for all the hospital has done for her. Photo by Michael Swan

Being a donor matters

  • October 29, 2020

Mary Thicket is not rich. But that doesn’t stop her from being a donor.

Thicket gives $25 a month via a pre-authorized withdrawal from her bank account to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation. It’s her way of saying thank you to the hospital that has saved her life over and over and to the Sisters of St. Joseph who gave Thicket her first career as an operating room nurse.

“It is thank you for what they did for me,” Thicket said.

“If you’ve ever been to the hospital you should say thank you in some way. They trained me as a nurse, a registered nurse. I had a career and I was grateful for it.”

Thicket’s career as an operating room nurse and an operating room supervisor ended when her rheumatoid arthritis quickly developed in her mid-30s, getting in the way of doing the job. She then began studying accounting and worked another 20 years before retiring at age 54.

Her fragile and deformed bones have dictated many things in her life, limiting her to reliance on a walker and draining her bank account to cover all the necessary medical care that isn’t covered by provincial health insurance. 

“So $3,000 here, $2,000 there and $1,000 there and it’s all gone,” she said.

But Thicket doesn’t accept such limitations. She remains as active as she can and at 75 is president of the Nurse Alumnae Association of St. Joseph’s Hospital. She knows her $25-a-month isn’t going to build a new wing, but being a St. Joe’s donor matters.

“It’s always been like my second home,” she said of the west-end Toronto hospital. “All my doctors are there. I’ve been there all along. I never, ever left.”

The question of whether she’s rich makes Rosemary Balmbra laugh — a big, long laugh.

She and her husband, both retired teachers, are not poor.

“We feel fairly secure with our pensions,” she said.

But giving is just a part of life as far as the Balmbras are concerned.

“Money is currency and money is meant to flow,” she said. “We don’t even see it leave our account, really. It’s a very painless way to give and to know that we’re doing something really worthwhile.”

That $100-a-month withdrawal from the Balmbras’ account goes toward the education and formation of a young Jesuit studying for priesthood.

“It’s an honour to be able to help with the formation of a priest,” Balmbra said. “We need our priests.”

Small monthly donations, as opposed to big gifts, are actually the key to successful fundraising, said the director of the Jesuits of Canada’s office of advancement, Barry Leidl.

“We have a special relationship with those who support us monthly,” Leidl wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “Even small amounts are very important in our fundraising efforts.

“Monthly donations are also very convenient for donors, instead of giving in one lump sum. We consider monthly donors unique and important partners in our mission.”

Leidl’s talk of rooting Jesuit fundraising in community is not just talk for the Balmbras. They live just down the street from the Manresa retreat house in Pickering, Ont., make regular retreats there and have good friends among the Jesuit fathers. Of course the Balmbras are also supporters of their parish and have been giving monthly by automatic withdrawal to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s five-year Family of Faith campaign.

“We really are blessed in so many ways. When we give it’s because we know that God has asked us to be cheerful givers and that all that we have comes from God — all that we have. It’s not ours. We can’t hold our little fists around it, because really it needs to move forward,” Balmbra said.

“And then our hands need to be open to receive.”

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