Posted: October 5, 2017
Bobby Thompson

Bobby Thompson wants to help take the contributions of Grand River Hospital volunteers to new heights.

Bobby is president of the Grand River Hospital Volunteer Association (GRHVA) board of directors.

The volunteer association and its board play many vital roles in motivating and supporting volunteers, including running the hospital’s gift shops and Tim Hortons location.

The net proceeds from the sales of coffee, cookies and gifts (to name a few) are donated to Grand River Hospital Foundation, helping GRH buy new and improved patient care equipment.

In the last several years, Bobby and his colleagues have worked to support volunteer activities and boost the financial contributions of GRHVA-owned businesses back to the hospital. These contributions are closing in on $200,000 a year.

How did you become involved in volunteering at the hospital?

I was asked to get involved supporting the Grand River Hospital Volunteer Association (GRHVA) board of directors given that there was a need for someone with accounting and financial background. After accepting the position, I became instantly engaged in the dynamic operations of the volunteer association. Being a part of a volunteer organization of more than a thousand passionate people is special.

How did you subsequently become president of the board?

The year after I began volunteering on the board, the president’s term came to an end. I was asked to take on the role of president, which three years later, I continue to hold today.

Leading an organization comprised of the amazing volunteers at this hospital gives me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. However, when I reflect on the dedication and servitude of the volunteers at GRH, I am humbled and committed to making an impact.

What is the importance of the GRHVA and its board?

The GRHVA board of directors has a clear purpose. What most people see within the hospital is the front line volunteers. We provide leadership for this network of volunteers and give them opportunities to engage in fellowship with each other.

What most people do not see is the financial contribution that we make to the hospital – through the Tim Horton’s, our gifts shops and annual gift wrap initiative. The GRHVA board oversees these operations and provides stewardship for the funds they generate.

The volunteer association makes its amazing $160,000 gift to the GRH Foundation
During volunteer festivities in April 2017, the volunteer association made an amazing $160,000 gift to GRH Foundation.
What kind of an impact does the volunteer association (and the board) make via businesses at the hospital?

Last year, we donated over $175,000 to the Grand River Hospital through patient care kits for units, sponsorship of holiday initiatives for staff and patients and our annual donation to the GRH Foundation.

Our funds are generated from our volunteer run operations including the Tim Horton’s, gift shops and fundraising.

To put this in perspective, without the volunteer time overseeing the Tim Horton’s and staffing the gift shops, we would be in a loss position each year. So volunteers not only donate their time, but make a positive financial contribution.

How does the volunteer association link with the staff side of supporting GRH volunteers?

We partner with the GRH volunteer resources department every day. Volunteer resources is responsible for recruiting volunteers, providing training and placing volunteers in positions throughout the hospital.

Last year we conducted our first ever volunteer engagement survey... the results of which indicated that volunteers are highly engaged and passionate about this hospital. Through that process, we were able to give the volunteer resources department feedback which they can then use to make their processes even better.

The volunteer association and volunteer resources are both committed to providing the best experience for volunteers, staff and patients!

How has the VA changed since you’ve been involved?

In 2015, I helped lead an initiative to give the GRHVA board of directors our first strategic direction document. We have since raised donations by more than 60 per cent, conducted our first volunteer engagement survey, forged new partnerships with Grand River Hospital Foundation and the hospital and made key administrative changes to our policies allowing us to be more agile to help the GRH even more in the future!

Where would you like to see it go?

I would like the GRHVA to achieve $200,000 per year of contribution to GRH.

I would like to see this organization provide timely feedback and support for the volunteer resources department to help them reach their highest potential.

I would like to see new indirect patient support initiatives (such as the patient supply kits) developed – where budgets do not allow for the little things.

My personal goal, is that I set up my successor to take the organization to the next level – and do things I cannot yet imagine.

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