May 25, 2021
Cathy Couey, Fund Development and Communications Officer with the High River District Health Care Foundation, has worked with the foundation for the past 22 years. She was inspired to pursue a career in philanthropy after growing up in a family that deeply valued giving back.
Story by Amelia Schofield | Photo by Leah Hennel
Alberta Health Services recognizes May as Health Philanthropy Month. Throughout the month, we will be celebrating our philanthropic partners who raise funds for healthcare across the province.
The Faces of the Foundations profile series will introduce you to individuals who lead healthcare philanthropy across Alberta. This week, we are pleased to profile Cathy Couey, Fund Development and Communications Officer, High River District Health Care Foundation.
Why did you get involved with the High River District Health Care Foundation?
I grew up in a home where giving back to the community was ingrained in me. I had observed the great work the foundation had done over the years and saw working with them as an opportunity to be a part of something that is so incredibly important to my community.
The hospital provides care and services that benefit my family, my friends and fellow community members. If I’m able to go to work each day and play a small role in positively impacting local healthcare and my community, I consider myself very lucky.
Why is healthcare philanthropy important to you?
The way I see it — there are two sides to healthcare philanthropy. There are people who give because it’s important to them to say ‘thank you’ for the care they or a loved one received. We (the foundation) are fortunate to sit on the other side of the desk when people share stories about the wonderful care they or a loved one received, and how appreciative they are. It’s really special to see how much it means for those people to say ‘thank you’ with their gift. On the other side, there are people who give because they want the best possible healthcare services for their community.
I think both sides are incredibly important and, ultimately, the support provides equipment, services and programming in our community that might not otherwise be available. That’s the underlying importance of what healthcare philanthropy is all about.
What are some of the foundation’s accomplishments that you’re most proud of?
Our maternity and cancer centre projects were our two most significant fundraising initiatives. Quite honestly, I’m not sure I ever imagined taking on a $1-million-plus project, but we took them both on. In five years, with the support of our community, the funds were raised. Actually more funds were raised than needed for the cancer centre. These projects were completely community-funded — and I am extremely proud of those initiatives and the positive impact they have.
I’m also proud of how our foundation shifted our work as result of COVID-19. It was obviously a major change for everyone in fundraising but I think we did it well and, once again, our community was there to support us.
I’m particularly proud of Health Care Heroes Day, which took place for the first time last May. We saw the strain on our local healthcare teams — and we wanted to find ways to show the foundation’s and the community’s appreciation for the work they do. We ended up creating Health Care Heroes Day, which will now take place the first Thursday of every May. It’s an opportunity for our community to join us and show our appreciation for healthcare workers in High River and Nanton.
As an extension of that, we also created Operation Health Care Heroes, where we do small gestures throughout the year to show appreciation. This includes things such as Winning Wednesday Raffles, creating fun team T-shirts, treat days and handing out gift cards to staff who were working on Christmas.
We have always had a deep appreciation for the staff, but I think we took it one step further, where we’re really showing them and I’m really proud of that initiative.
What initiatives are coming up at the foundation?
Our second annual Health Care Heroes Day took place on Thursday, May 6 and was a huge success in both High River and Nanton.
We’re planning to host another drive-in concert again this fall. Last year, we held our Big Screen Harvest Party fundraiser in place of our annual Dinner & Auction. This drive-in concert featured George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett. It was incredibly successful, so we’re looking forward to hosting another one.
How can Albertans support the foundation?
There are a few ways Albertans can show their support. There are opportunities to volunteer with our foundations — whether that’s helping out with an event or joining a board. They can also sponsor or attend an event, buy raffle tickets or make a direct financial contribution.
For more information on the High River District Health Care Foundation, please visit highriverhealthfoundation.ca.