Volunteers Make Magic!

“The value of one, the power of many” is a fitting theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week.

Each volunteer at the University Hospital Foundation is unique, adding their own skills and passion to their work and advocacy. And as a group all of our volunteers are able come together and create magic.

This is the magic that has successfully run Edmonton’s longest running holiday festival for over 35 years. The magic that has supported every area of care at the University of Alberta Hospital site. The magic that allowed volunteers to completely pivot event plans and still raise more than $400,000 for Alzheimer’s disease research – research that may help find a cure one day – in the middle of the pandemic.

When it comes to making a difference, our volunteers are critical to help us drive world-changing innovation and transformation in health and healthcare. From our Board Members to Festival of Trees volunteers, and everyone in between, thank you for all that you do.

We have always known that the impact of University Hospital Foundation volunteers is priceless. But this past year, you showed us something new. The COVID-19 pandemic posed unimaginable challenges for every organization and individual. It has impacted so many aspects of our day-to-day lives, but volunteers remain such a significant part of the UHF family. They stepped up in new ways to help us meet our goals. Organizations who usually provide volunteers to answer phones during Heart Pledge Day, got together to fundraise at their businesses instead. Volunteers with Festival of Trees got creative, brainstormed new ideas, and went virtual! For other volunteers, you made sacrifices to keep your family, friends and community members safe by respecting social distancing and staying home. We appreciate each and every one of you for all that you have done.

Thank you for giving your time, your skills and your passion to the University Hospital Foundation and helping improve and save the lives of patients at the University of Alberta Hospital sit every day. We eagerly await the time when we can gather together for our events and fundraisers, and celebrate properly everything you do.


In order to get an inside look at volunteering with the UHF, we have interviewed three of our dedicated volunteers.

  • Karey Heard is the Transitional Leader of the Festival Steering Committee, and became involved in the Festival of Trees in 2018 as the Luncheon & Fashion Show Co-chair.
  • David Finlay is the Chair of the University Hospital Foundation Board, and has been involved in the Board since 2013.
  • Joette Decore joined the Board in 2017 and is currently the Vice Board Chair, and the incoming Board Chair.


Why do you volunteer with UHF?

David: I have always enjoyed participating in activities that have involved community building. Whether it was a youth group, political group or a discussion group, the interaction with others always provided an enriching context in my life. Edmonton is a great place for volunteerism, and there are many worthy charities and not-for-profit organizations in which volunteers play a vital role. The UHF is one that has such a far reaching impact that it is an honour to be able to contribute. It gives me great satisfaction so think that I have made some small contribution in the evolution of the University of Alberta Hospital and patient care.


Joette: I know I have been very blessed in my life. I want to pay it forward and one of the ways that I can accomplish this is through volunteering. My husband was involved in a serious ski accident and unfortunately spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Alberta Hospital. We were fortunate that he had access to top medical care, and I was so grateful to the doctors and nurses that cared for my husband. Joining the Board of UHF is my way to give back to all those that saved my husband’s life.


Karey: I was a guest at Festival of Trees Luncheon in 2016 and 2017. I was in awe of the Luncheon and the Festival of Trees as an event overall. I thought the event was magical and I had never seen anything like it. When I was approached to help Co-Chair the Luncheon & Fashion Show, I was proud to be helping continue the tradition of the Festival and bringing holiday magic to Edmonton each November. I love the fact I can help raise money to support patients, research and innovation at the University of Alberta Hospital every year, just by volunteering my time at such a special event. It is incredibly rewarding.


For Joette, volunteering with the UHF Board has had a positive impact on her life.

Joette: Volunteering allows you to challenge yourself and learn new skills. It enriches my life, by providing me with a sense of purpose and connection to my community. I know I am making a difference. In addition, the opportunities for learning are unbelievable – seeing the new technologies and the advancements being made in medicine is mind blowing.

I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people from other board members to the management team of the foundation to patients and physicians, and make connections with them. I met one amazing patient was while I was volunteering at 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day last year to raise money for the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. I will never forget this young girl and how fragile she looked, but when I spoke with her I realized her spirit was strong. She was so courageous and grateful to all those that had helped her. She was inspiring. Stories like hers are a reminder of what is truly important in life – health, family and being able to help others.

Karey’s favourite part about volunteering with the UHF is being involved in a making magical memories.

Karey: I love the fact that people in Edmonton call Festival of Trees the “Kick Off” to the holiday season and that a variety of events at the Festival involve so many different people in our community. There are so many opportunities for Festival goers to experience the magic of the holidays, and have fun. It is also one of the largest and oldest running Festivals (36 years!). Typically each year, over 2,500 volunteers come together to make this remarkable event happen, and thousands of people attend – that’s a lot of special memories for a lot of people.

One of the best parts of all for me, is that the volunteers are so friendly and the core members are just like an extended family. I look forward to being able to get together with my fellow volunteers and make new memories!

David would encourage anyone who is thinking of getting involved with the University Hospital Foundation to take the opportunity.

David: The University Hospital Foundation is a wonderful charity. Our volunteers are leaders in the community and the commitment they have to making an impact and helping the community is remarkable. My participation has given me an appreciation for the complexity of healthcare and the dedication of healthcare professionals at all levels. There is no better way to get an understanding of the hard work and commitment that healthcare professionals put in to saving lives and making the patient experience as comfortable as possible, than by volunteering to support them in their efforts. I would really recommend that if people get the opportunity to work with the UHF or in the healthcare system as a volunteer it is a very rewarding opportunity.

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