New award inspired by 50 years of volunteer service

By Taylor Grant

Lottie Frenssen started volunteering for the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) and its legacy organizations for one simple reason: to help people.

The German native was thankful for the generosity the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie showed when she first moved to the city of North Bay and wanted to give back. “The nuns really took me under their wing and helped me become a registered nursing assistant,” says Frenssen. “So I always said I would help out anyway I could.”

It’s a journey of volunteering that spanned a whopping 50 years. It began by knitting sweaters for babies in hospital, and then she says she felt a tug to volunteer her ‘spare’ time in the Gift Shop. “I hated seeing the Gift Shop closed, because I knew it helped the hospital raise money to purchase needed equipment,” Frenssen explains. “So if I was scheduled to work nights, I would volunteer from 6 to 9 p.m. before going to work.”

After she retired from nursing, Frenssen’s volunteer work expanded into other areas—playing a vital role with the Friends of NBRHC (formerly the Volunteer Association) and serving several terms as President, while also helping to raise funds for capital equipment through the sale of break open tickets.

After a full-half century Frenssen decided it was time to retire from volunteering. Her legacy to NBRHC however, lives on.

In 2018, the Health Centre’s Volunteer Involvement (VI) Committee decided to create the Lottie Frenssen Volunteer Award to honour her years of service. “The award is a small way to pay tribute to Lottie and share her legacy with new volunteers,” says Ron Walsh, member of the VI Committee. “It honours those who share Lottie’s tireless efforts and devotion to the Health Centre and set the standard for volunteering, leadership and caring.”

Since the award’s inception, 30 volunteers have been nominated by patients, staff and peers for their significant contributions to the Health Centre.

Pet therapy volunteer, Laurie Mills was named the recipient of this year’s award. “Laurie has been volunteering with the Health Centre’s Pet Therapy Program for over 20 years. He has gone out of his way to provide services to all areas of the hospital with his dog Vega, specifically our mental health and the law program,” explains Walsh. “We are very grateful to have such a wonderful man and amazing dog as part of our team.”

Taylor Grant is a Communications Assistant at NBRHC.