By Jenn Watt
Published Feb. 2 2017
Dale Walker had little fundraising experience when she became chairwoman of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation board two decades ago. She’d organized some political and charity dinners but had never mounted a multi-million-dollar campaign.
But that’s what was being asked of the community in order to build two new heath-care facilities in Minden and Haliburton and Walker believed in the cause.
“In 1996 when the hospital was looking at expansion I talked to Foster Loucks who was the CEO at the time and I talked to Hugh Nichol who was involved in it and said I’d like to help in some way” she recalls. “I was just looking for some place in the community as a volunteer. As we got going I realized it was quite a challenge.”
The people of Haliburton County were being asked to raise about $6 million.
While major funding came from the province and federal government the community had to commit to what seemed like an overwhelming sum. The HHHSF board members thought it might take them five years to raise the money. It ended up taking longer but for the wider community’s efforts (and that of then-MPP Chris Hodgson) the two villages have the facilities still in use today.
Since that time the Foundation has mounted many more campaigns with a total of $13 million raised over the years.
Last week after 20 years with the Foundation – 18 of them as executive director – Walker is retiring or as she says “rewiring.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be in the community” Walker says.
She and her husband Jerry own the Home Hardware in Haliburton Village; the business is relocating which is in the planning stages. Walker says she’ll be spending more time on the store and giving herself time to relax with motorcycle trips time at the cottage and gardening on the horizon.
Her last day at HHHS Foundation will be June 1.
“Dale over the years has always displayed the ultimate professionalism in her approach to the Foundation’s business and the uncanny ability to deal with each and every potential donor on a very personal one-on-one basis” board chairman Peter Oyler said in a press release.
“It is this approach that has earned her the respect and the trust of the different commercial industrial and residential sectors of Haliburton County. Dale will definitely be missed and it will be difficult to find an individual with her credentials to fill the position.”
Walker credits the Foundation’s incredible success over the years to the right people in the right places at the right time who built up a reputation that the community could trust. The list of those who have been part of the Foundation is long and prestigious.
“The biggest thing for the board members and myself is the trust that the community puts in you to raise money and take their hard-earned money and invest it wisely in the hospital” Walker says.
She may be retiring from the Foundation in June but Walker is busy right now. Coming off the most successful Christmas campaign of the organization’s history (with more than $100000 raised) she has shifted her attention to the Cash for Care lottery and planning events such as the golf tournament and radiothon.
HHHSF just announced they’ve surpassed $1 million for the palliative care suite and are in the midst of paying for bone densitometry equipment.