Volunteer dedicates 50 years to helping sick and injured children

With 50 years’ experience in the world of fundraising, Barb McLean is so skilled she could teach a class – and she has.

“No matter how big or small your contribution is it’s still a contribution. I recognize the need for volunteers. I recognize the good that volunteers can do,” says Barb.

Barb has been volunteering with the Children’s Hospital Guild of Manitoba since 1971, when the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba (CHFM) was founded.

Barb’s Aunt, Pat Charad, invited her to join the Chown Guild in November of 1971 when she was 26 years old and the cost to be a member was $3. Barb had just given birth to her first child and Pat encouraged her to get out of the house and give back.

“You never know when you’re going to have a sick child, or a sick grandchild, or any child that’s a member of your family or close friends. It’s very important to have that outlet (HSC Children’s), which is a world-class outlet,” says Barb.

Barb has held many volunteer positions over the years including President of the Chown Guild. She was also a member of the CHFM board.

One of the highlights of Barb’s fundraising career was flying to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and other northern communities to speak about her experiences raising money for kids in hospital.

In 1988 community groups from Canada’s north invited Barb, and fellow veteran volunteer Colleen Horbay, to share their knowledge because they wanted to honour a child who had needed the Children’s Hospital with a donation. The residents held a series of bingos, dances, and finally a radio-thon and raised just over $11,000.

Barb McLean (last on right) stands with Guild volunteers at a 1984 garage sale to support Children’s Hospital

Barb and the dedicated members of Chown Guild were creative and came up with many ways to raise money to help sick kids including fashion shows, Cocktails in the Park, hoedown dances, bridge parties, garage sales and more.

“You name it, we did it.”

While Barb belonged to the Chown Guild during her service there were four other guilds raising money for the Children’s Hospital, creating a community of caring.  In 2010 all the guilds amalgamated under the name Children’s Hospital Guild of Manitoba.

“I think the Guild members are ambassadors to the Children’s Hospital and to the Children’s Hospital Foundation and that makes me feel good. Under the umbrella of the foundation we just grew and became more recognized,” says Barb.

Barb feels supporting HSC Children’s Hospital is important for the future of child health, and is grateful donors continue to give.

“Without your help and without your donations the Foundation wouldn’t exist and neither would the Children’s Hospital. We need to support the Foundation and the hospital,” says Barb.

Barb says she will continue to volunteer and would recommend getting involved with the Children’s Hospital Guild to anyone who can.

“Volunteering always gives me a sense of purpose and takes me out of my comfort zone giving me the opportunity to meet and socialize with people of all ages. Volunteering as a person always lets me give and receive kindness. My connection with the CHFM has been a learning experience and blessing to me over the last 50 years.”

Barb still continues to volunteer. In 2021 she helped out at the Nearly New Shop, run by Guild volunteers, and supported COVID safe events run by the Guild like the April in Paris fundraiser.