The Group of Five was founded in 2004 by the following founding members: Marion Osterman, Shirley Piper, Alana McIntyre, Nancy Jickels and Gerda Suess. Later that year they were joined by Marylou Chesman and Cheryl Gauld.
….in the beginning
In 2003, Mrs. Gerda Suess was named New Westminster Citizen of the Year. While holding this honour, she wished to do something special in return for her city. After discussions with friends and colleagues in the community, she discovered an acute need for medical equipment at Royal Columbian Hospital – specifically for the Emergency and Critical Care departments.
Mrs. Suess recruited four friends to assist her in her fundraising efforts and ‘The Group of Five’ was formed. In 2004, they were not a society, not a charity, just a conscientious collective of concerned citizens who wish to contribute to their community.
They set their goal to purchase one, much-needed SCD scanning device to prevent potentially fatal blood clots in peri-operative patients at Royal Columbian Hospital [RCH] and a festive fundraiser was planned for November 23, 2004.
The results of their effort far exceeded the groups every expectation. With approximately $10,000 raised, four SCD scanning devices were purchased. The true need of this medical equipment was evident when, on presentation, the nurse at RCH immediately unwrapped the SCD’s and took it directly into the ward and put it to use.
Acknowledging that there were now seven members in the G5, it was determined that the group needed to update their name. As a result, the GROUP of FIVE & Friends Benevolent Society was formed – embracing everyone who wished to help the group raise money for RCH. Today, The G5 is a registered not-for-profit charity.
While the G5 and the RCH Foundation [the fund-raising arm for RCH] has a remarkable relationship, the G5’s mandate was to ensure that 100% of monies raised went to the purchase of equipment and not to administrative needs. Today, this mandate has never wavered and the G5 continues to purchase equipment ‘on invoice’ for RCH through fund-raising events.
In the beginning doctors and nurses were asked directly what they required and it was purchased from the manufacture and awarded to the staff by the G5. Today, the Foundation helps identify equipment needs and other significant project for the G5 to promote. These projects have included the creation of a play area for pre-teen patients and the revitalization of the Breast Imaging Reception area.
For nearly two decades, the G5 has produced two incredible events (Spring & Fall) to raise record amounts of money and purchase numerous pieces of medical equipment. Sadly, with the emerging world pandemic COVID-19, the GROUP of FIVE have had to curtail their events and have had to regroup and plan out a very different – very new way forward.
Yet the need for much needed equipment has not diminished at RCH – such as respirators, PPE and other front-line protection. To this end, the G5 will re-emerge stronger and more cohesive then ever and continue the important work of helping RCH with equipment needs.