In 1947, when he was 19, Don Hillhouse arrived at St. Michael’s Hospital by streetcar. He had been referred by the Workman’s Compensation Board to have a hernia repaired after an industrial accident. He would be operated on by Dr. Keith Welsh, then the renowned and revered Chief Surgeon. Don says, “The atmosphere at the hospital was dignified, peaceful, orderly – it said ‘You’re going to be well looked after here.’ The care, supervised by dedicated and compassionate nuns and nurses, was exceptional.”
Fast forward to 1998, and Don is now a member of The Rotary Club of Toronto and, in the wake of St. Michael’s merger with the Wellesley Hospital, is on the committee that was instrumental in ensuring the transfer of the Rotary Health Bus to St. Michael’s. Support from the Club also created The Rotary Club of Toronto Transition Centre, which provides personal care assistance, clothing and short-term accommodation to give those who require an opportunity to recover. The hospital’s outreach to the disadvantaged has always resonated with Don: “For generations, St. Michael’s has been a major help to those who are disadvantaged, and our Urban Angel continues to deserve our financial and volunteer support.” In this regard, he says, “I applaud John Barford, a St. Michael’s Foundation Board member, who provided significant support to create the Chair in Homelessness, Housing and Health, held by Dr. Stephen Hwang.
I’ve had a lot of wonderful care but that’s not what drives me to donate. It’s about caring for the homeless. — Don Hillhouse
Don has been a monthly donor for over a decade and has indicated his intention to leave a bequest in his will. Over the years, he has been to St. Michael’s many times and is a regular patient of Dr. Bill Watson at the St. Michael’s Family and Community Medicine Clinic at 61 Queen Street. “He’s a wonderful practitioner with tremendous experience and compassion,” Don says. But Dr. Watson is not the only St. Michael’s physician he’s encountered. He laughs as he says “If I gave a list of the specialists I’ve seen here … I’ve had a lot of wonderful care but that’s not what drives me to donate. It’s about caring for the homeless. It’s a different world today from when I first came to St. Michael’s but caring for the homeless is still important and that to me is the bridge from St. Michael’s Hospital’s inception in 1892 to the present.”
To learn more about how you can leave a gift in your will, please contact Cynthia Collantes, Director, Gift Planning at St. Michael’s Foundation at 416.864.5879 or CollantesC@smh.ca.