Neil Sweeney at Markham Stouffville Hospital

A nineteen year journey of giving and volunteering

Markham looked a lot different when Neil Sweeney and his family moved into the community many years ago.

A commitment to giving

Markham looked a lot different when Neil Sweeney and his family moved into the community many years ago. “The hospital was just an empty lot donated by a long-time Markham resident,” says Neil.

At the time, Neil had no idea how central Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) would become in his life, but he did know how important it was to contribute. He and his wife, Carol, made their first donation in 1983.

“We donated to the hospital during the initial fundraising period,” Neil recalls. “We gave because MSH would be our local hospital and would save us trips to Toronto if we needed care.”

The Sweeneys have been giving ever since, proud to contribute on a monthly basis. “Monthly giving guarantees our commitment to the hospital,” Neil explains. “Plus, we don’t have to remember to give – our donation happens automatically.”

Monthly giving is just one way that Neil’s family is supporting the community hospital—he’s also a devoted volunteer. He spends every Monday, as well as other shifts as needed, helping in the chemotherapy clinic.

Neil Sweeney at Markham Stouffville Hospital

Finding purpose in retirement: volunteering at MSH

Neil had recently retired from his distinguished career in policing when he and Carol came to the hospital to visit a friend who worked as a nurse in the chemotherapy clinic. The friend asked Carol how Neil’s retirement was going, and Carol responded, “Neil really needs something to do.”

The friend suggested Neil meet with Magda Rigo, the head of Community Services (Volunteers) at the time, to explore a possible volunteer role. “Magda’s sincerity, warmth, and presentation made me feel MSH was where I needed to spend a couple years giving back to my community,” says Neil. “That was 19 years ago.”

This is our hospital. This is the place we depend on in times of family stress. Whether we give $5 or $5 million, our support is important.

Neil Sweeney

A second family

As you can imagine, Neil has learned a lot about the hospital and its staff over the years. What he’s discovered has made him even more proud to support his hospital. Neil calls the MSH team his “second family” and says a “positive and welcoming experience” begins at the registration desk when the patient enters the clinic.

“It’s the little things our patients seem to appreciate the most,” says Neil. “Because this is a community hospital, our doctors and nurses have the opportunity to get to know patients and their families. Patients appreciate that they’re more than just another face.”

Neil has experienced exceptional patient care first-hand at MSH. He’s visited the Emergency Department several times and has also been admitted.

“When I was a patient for a few days, I was impressed with the care and professionalism of everyone I came into contact with,” recalls Neil. “When the staff came into my room, I was greeted with a smile and asked if there was anything I needed. This attitude has been a 19-year experience anywhere my work took me in the hospital.”

The need for community support

In addition to getting a close-up look at the skill and compassion of MSH’s teams, Neil also sees the ongoing need for equipment and technology.

“The province provides general funding to keep hospitals open and operating. But when it comes to other priorities, the hospital relies on the community,” explains Neil. “Our support is vital to the purchase of advanced equipment to assist health care professionals to do their job effectively and efficiently.”

For this reason, Neil encourages community members to join him as a monthly supporter and help bring a lifetime of care close to home. As he says, monthly giving provides a steady stream of revenue MSH Foundation can count on to purchase vital equipment. “Equipment that may save your or a family member’s life.”

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