Marlene Braidwood has been a committed volunteer at the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary for the past 17 years. She manages the Royal Columbian Hospital Gift Shop while co-managing Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary’s New to You Thrift Shop. Motivated by a deep passion for helping others, Marlene has led an extensive volunteer career.
“We all need to find a way to help others, especially those who aren’t as fortunate as us,” says Marlene Braidwood.
After 16 years with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Marlene joined Royal Columbian Hospital as a volunteer in April, 2006. Marlene’s volunteer work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation confirmed a passion for volunteering that she had grown up watching her parent’s model.
Volunteer work runs deeply throughout Marlene’s family. Marlene’s father was involved with the founding of Surrey Memorial Hospital, and her mother participated in the hospital auxiliary, while balancing work at a department store and running the family’s motel. Marlene’s tireless support of the auxiliary is inspired by her parent’s memory. “[Myself and my two sisters] were so proud of all the community work our parents were involved in,” Marlene describes. “It was hard work and long hours. Total inspiration to the three of us.”
“Marlene is a doer. When she decides to get involved, she does so wholeheartedly,” says Kathy Slocombe, her auxiliary co-worker. Marlene quickly immersed herself with volunteer work at the hospital soon after she started. Within two months of her volunteer work as a wayfinder at the hospital, she became vice president of the auxiliary. From there she took on the role as auxiliary president for nine years.
Auxiliaries provide critical work involving fundraising and volunteering to support health care services. Dedicated members of the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary raise money for the hospital through their gift shop, New To You Thrift Shop and lottery booth. Marlene became president of the auxiliary at a difficult time, when finding new members was difficult and the organization was in a state of uncertainty. Marlene’s positivity and adaptability were instrumental in reviving the organization. Being willing to try new approaches to finding staff and adapting to new technology made Marlene a valued leader and member of the auxiliary.
Marlene is currently the manager of the Royal Columbian Hospital Gift Shop and co-manager of the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary’s New To You Thrift Shop. Marlene’s leadership has helped foster a sense of teamwork among the staff of the thrift store and gift shop, which has helped increase yearly revenue at both stores.
Marlene works closely with the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation staff to identify the needs of the hospital and use the funds raised to purchase new equipment. She also manages the Patient Comfort Program, a program dedicated to supporting patients throughout their care journey. Some of the important work the program provides includes supplying essential items, such as toiletry kits and clothing, to patients in need. Marlene’s dedication and persistence ensured that the program continued, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From covering volunteer shifts when needed to driving volunteers to events when they need a ride, Marlene’s dedication to supporting others shows through her commitment to helping in any way she can. Looking back at her abundant experience of volunteer work, Marlene says, “It’s not one accomplishment that makes me smile; it’s just knowing that in some way, perhaps I’ve made a difference for someone.”
Marlene is a recipient of the 2023 Fraser Health Hero Above and Beyond Award.