Laila Bird, past-president of the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary, presents $30,000 to Carey Bornn, executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. The donation will help provide medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion. (Submitted photo)

Help after a dramatic escape from fire results in donation to Penticton hospital

Donation to the Penticton Regional Hospital comes by way of the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary

After being burned out of her home two summers ago, Laila Bird truly knows how much the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary helps their community.

Bird, the auxiliary’s past-president, was looking after her son’s rural home on Highway 5A north of town, when a massive wildfire roared through the area in July 2017. Two homes, including theirs, and one business were destroyed.

“We lost every blooming thing, except the tractor,” she said.

Related: Okanagan First Nation artist unveils special sculpture at Penticton hospital

Minutes after running out of the house, Bird and some neighbours watched as the blaze raced by.

“It was actually coming down the mountain – flames and everything – when I was alerted,” she said.

“I just had time to put out the sprinklers, put the dog in the car, grab my passport and purse and get out.”

Bird was the first person to arrive at the town’s emergency evacuation centre and received tremendous community support, especially from the hospital auxiliary which supplied many evacuees with free clothing from their downtown Thrift Shop.

“Thank God for the hospital auxiliary, because all I had was what I stood in,” she recalled.

Related: GoFundMe set up for optimistic Princeton woman

The Princeton Hospital Auxiliary, established in 1910, is a strong community supporter with about 50 members who volunteer at the Thrift Shop on Vermillion Avenue.

“The town population is less than 3,000, so with 50 members, that’s pretty good,” she said.

In addition to fundraising for Princeton General Hospital and other local organizations, the auxiliary is also donating $30,000 to help provide medical equipment for the expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital.

Bird emphasized the PRH donation does not come at the expense of Princeton’s own hospital. The auxiliary has an extensive list of recent donations to Princeton General Hospital, including $20,000 for a telemetry system and $2,600 for a defibrillator. It also recently provided a blanket warmer at the Ridgewood Lodge extended care residence and a bariatric shower chair.

Related: A fire can destroy many things — but not spirit

As well, Bird said the auxiliary contributes to Meals on Wheels, provides bursaries for graduating high school students entering post-secondary education in health care, and has assisted the Princeton and nearby Erris volunteer fire departments.

“They’re the first responders and they’re well-trained,” she said.

Bird has served for more than eight years with the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary after moving to the Similkameen 10 years ago from the Lower Mainland.

The donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, gained praise from Carey Bornn, the foundation’s executive-director.

“That shows what an incredible auxiliary they have in Princeton,” Bornn said. “Their support for their own community’s hospital and PRH is tremendous.”

The new PRH tower, which includes a rooftop helipad, will open on April 29.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Kelowna Rockets?

This quiz challenges the knowledge of those who claim to be the biggest Rockets fans

12-year-old Kelowna resident celebrates birthday with help of community

The community greeted Kate Pauling with ballons, banners and gifts along her paper route on Friday

COVID-19: More infected passengers on planes flying to and from Okanagan and Kamloops airports

The BC Centre of Disease Control has identified numerous flights with COVID-19 cases

Land once belonged to Grand Chief Nicola

Summerland was once known as Nicola Prairie

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

Okanagan nordic centre loses out on 2021 nationals

Sovereign Lake near Vernon was to host 2020 Canadian championships, canceled due to COVID-19

COVID-19: North Okanagan spring leagues wiped out

Ladies softball, indoor and beach volleyball leagues shut down over pandemic

Most Read