Shona Connelly loves her job, and it shows. As she speaks about her role as a Major Gifts Fundraiser at St. Boniface Hospital Foundation, her enthusiasm bubbles over. After sharing her perspectives on the dedication of all hospital staff during the pandemic, she says, “You can tell, I just love what I do. I’ve met doctors, nurses, parking staff, support staff, kitchen staff and administrators, and everyone has made such a difference. I have enjoyed everyone I’ve met in my 15 years here.”
As she raises funds to support patient care and research at Manitoba’s second largest hospital, she draws inspiration from the founders of the hospital, the Grey Nuns. “There’s something special about St. B,” she continues. “The spirit of the nuns is with us. I’ve had donors who have told me about how the nuns hired them or took care of them. That’s the heart of this work: seeing potential in people. I think that’s still important today, and still necessary today because of all that’s going on in the world.”
While many things have changed since the Grey Nuns ran the hospital, so, too has the way people support the care and research that happens there. “As the next generation of donors is coming along, they’re learning,” Connelly admits. “They don’t have a lot of capacity at the moment, but people are interested in understanding how they can help in the community. They may not all have the financial means, but they might have time. Philanthropy isn’t all about the money, it’s about how you can give back in your way.”
Connelly cites the volunteer program at the hospital as a perfect example. Those who give their time come from all backgrounds and represent many generations. “The younger generation has seen what their parents have done, and they have the capacity to give from the heart. That’s what matters,” she shares.
Supporting health care is a family affair for Connelly. Her father was Medical Director at a Winnipeg Personal Care home, her brother works at Hazelden Betty Ford (a drug and alcohol treatments center) and her sister is a speech language pathologist. “I tried nursing for eight months and it was a disaster,” Connelly admits with a laugh. “But this spirit of helping was entrenched in us kids because we witnessed it. When you watch your family care for others all their lives, it becomes natural to you.”
And so, Connelly carries her family legacy and embraces every minute of it. “I think it makes a difference when you have a job that you really like,” she reflects. “If I can leave at the end of the day with a smile on my face, I’ve had a good day. Relationships matter so much here, and in fact I was just talking to my very first major gift donor from 15 years ago. He’s still involved with the hospital and it’s really great to be a part of that.”
Connelly’s gratitude is simply expressed. “I can’t stress this enough: the work that we do is good,” she says. “It’s just good work. We love what we do, we are passionate and compassionate, and the Foundation is just a wonderful organisation to be a part of.”