Radio host Phil Johnson is grateful for the care he received at Kelowna General Hospital.

Health crises inspire media personalities to volunteer

Kelowna's Phil Johnson and Tamara Joel share emotional stories to support National Volunteer Week

  • Apr. 16, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Two well-known radio hosts are sharing stories of their recent health crises that inspired both to become weekly volunteers for the KGH Foundation.

Local morning show hosts Phil Johnson of AM1150 and EZ Rock’s, Tamara Joel, expressed their messages of gratitude in two emotional videos recently released.

Monday, April 16 marks the kick-off to National Volunteer Week in Canada. Every day across the country, volunteers give their time to support non-profits, charities, service organizations and communities in need. It is an act of true philanthropy – giving to promote the welfare of others with no expectation of anything return. But anyone who volunteers regularly will tell you, the act of service comes with many unexpected, invaluable rewards.

WATCH Phil’s Story

WATCH TJ’S Story

Johnson’s and Joel’s stories began when they both suffered serious health crisis’s that landed them in Kelowna General Hospital. Both were gravely ill and stayed in hospital for several days. Becoming patients themselves allowed them to experience first-hand and the extraordinary care being provided by KGH medical staff, students and support teams.

Once recovered, both felt deeply grateful and eventually, separate from one another despite being close colleagues, made their way to becoming volunteers for the KGH Foundation.

The KGH Foundation is a volunteer-driven, charitable organization whose aim is to advance the standard of health care being delivered to patients at KGH and its associated facilities. Every week, the organization relies on hundreds of volunteers to staff four non-profit venues; the Perking Lot (hospital coffee shop), Royal Bistro (hospital café), Centennial Mercantile (hospital gift shop) and the Rutland Thrift Store.

Phil spends Tuesday mornings as a barista at the Perking Lot, preparing lattes for doctors, nurses, patients and guests at KGH. TJ spends Tuesday afternoons at the Royal Bistro, interacting with and serving KGH staff and visitors hot breakfast or lunch.

For every four hour shift, a volunteer contributes approximately $84 to the KGH Foundation.

Over the years, these contributions have added up to millions of dollars in funds. In 2017, KGH volunteers joined with hospital volunteer groups from Peachland, Lake Country and Winfield to purchase a new $1.9 million CT scanner for the Emergency Department at KGH. They also gave a sizable gift to Foundry Kelowna, the new integrated care clinic to support youth struggling with their mental health.

Both Phil and TJ admit that giving in the form of volunteering began initially as a way to give to the hospital in a meaningful way.

Yet what they gained for themselves is priceless.