AMHERST, N.S. – Staff at Weston Foods’ Amherst operation are becoming real difference makers when it comes to the support of their community.
That support was amplified on Jan. 8 when employees and management came together to present a $151,258 cheque to representatives from the Cumberland Health Care Foundation. The money will be used to purchase a new transport incubator, a portable ultrasound unit and a Bili Blanket for the Maternity/Child Care Unit at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“Our maternity and child unit is something we haven’t been able to do anything for the last few years as we focused on other areas, but when this opportunity came up it was a Godsend,” the health care foundation’s managing director Gwen Kerr said. “This allows us to address quite a few needs all at once instead of saying you can get this piece of equipment this year and that piece next year.”
It’s the second consecutive year staff at Weston Foods has selected the Cumberland Health Care Foundation as its beneficiary. Last year, staff presented a cheque for $116,000 to the foundation’s mental health and addictions fund.
Last year there were 214 births at the regional hospital and most were according to plan. Occasionally though, a baby needs some extra care and may need to be transported to a different hospital for specialized treatment.
To keep the baby safe and warm a special transport incubator is used. The hospital’s incubator is also used by other hospitals so replacing the old model with a new one will benefit even more babies in the years to come.
The new transport incubator will be complemented with a Bili Blanket, which is a portable phototherapy device for treatment of neonatal jaundice. Bili Blankets are necessary because left untreated, jaundice can have long-term effects like permanent brain damage.
One crucial element for the care of expectant mothers is an ultrasound. To enhance our current services at the hospital, we are also exploring the purchase of a new Ultrasound machine to be used for maternity and many other applications.
To raise the funds, employees participated in various fundraisers beginning last fall, while also committing to payroll deduction to support their charity of choice. What they raised ($75,629) was matched corporately through the Weston Seeding Stronger Communities Initiative.
“Even though there was a shorter fundraising period this year people really stepped up,” Kerr said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
This was the most the Amherst employees have ever raised. The Amherst plant was tops in Canada for fundraising among Weston companies and second in North America. Plant manager Tyler McLeod said that speaks volumes about his employees.
“What is there to say? It’s something we say every year, we have amazing people here at Weston Foods and they always step up to support the community,” McLeod said. “The fact they’ve selected the health care foundation for two years is not just a coincidence either, it shows how much they value quality health care services such as mental health and maternity. The employees select the charity and they vote on it.”
McLeod said he continues to be amazed at the program’s success. He was thrilled nine years ago when $37,000 was given to Maggie’s Place in 2010. Now that the amount is more than four times that, he’s overwhelmed.
“We raised $30,000 in one night through payroll deductions in one night,” he said. “The minimum is $2 a week, but some people go up to $20 or $30 a week. That’s just incredible when you think about the size of our workforce and the level of buy-in among the employees.”