Community Highlight: Celebrating 30 Years of Stories


This April marks the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Hospital Book Market at St. Vital Centre. The Book Market was established in 1961, and is the longest running fundraiser in support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. It's hard to believe that we've been hosting the event since 1986, and we couldn’t be more proud to be involved. Seeing the Centre fill up with books never stops feeling magical, and we always get excited to see customers coming back year after year.

The Book Market wouldn’t be what it is today without the help of the dedicated volunteers. And behind that blue apron, every volunteer has a story to share – especially those who have been helping out with the Book Market for decades! We talked to a few ‘Book Marketeers’ about what encouraged them to take part, and why this event is so close to their hearts. Here’s what they had to say:

Name: Colleen Horbay
Number of years volunteering: 50+ 
What led you to become a volunteer? “I was a pediatric nurse, and in 1951, I met a little girl named Genevieve who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. I remember when the doctor told her parents that there wasn’t much they could do, and I was completely heartbroken. I remember her saying to me, “Nurse, I don’t want to die.” I knew right then and there that I had to do something to help kids like Genevieve in the future. I’ve always been a volunteer; it’s in my nature to help others.”
Why is the Book Market special to you? “Well, recycling the books is important to me, and so is raising money for the Children’s Hospital. The very first sale raised $5,000, and look at the money we are raising today. It’s an incredible initiative that we’ve built.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of the event? “I love meeting everyone that comes by, and chatting with them about their favourite books. It's a wonderful way to communicate with the public, and to help recycle.”
Favourite book? “I love biographies, and reading about people’s life stories. I just finished reading Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.”

Name: Jacquie Rohn
Number of years volunteering? 9 

What led you to become a volunteer? “I first heard about the Book Market in the ‘70s, because I was a nurse. When we [Jacquie and her husband, Richard] retired, we wanted to focus our extra time on volunteering to benefit the hospital.”
Why is the Book Market special to you? “Because it’s a great cause. The outcomes [for sick children] were much different 40 years ago, and that’s because of the new equipment, and research that has been done. We want to help raise money for the constant need of new equipment and further research.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of the event? “We love meeting the people that come to the Book Market, and one of the best parts is when we can help someone find a book they’ve been searching for. People get so excited about finding a book, and that’s really rewarding for us.”
Favourite book? “It’s hard to pick just one! [My husband] is a history buff, and I’ll read anything from a western to a sci-fi fantasy.”

Name: Kim Peterson
Numbers of years volunteering: 2.5
What led you to become a volunteer? “I was actually a long-time Book Market customer, and took my children every year because it’s something we looked forward to as a family. One day I mentioned to a volunteer that she was incredibly lucky to work for the Book Market, and she handed me an application. When I retired I had the opportunity to help out, and I am so grateful for it.”
Why is the Book Market special to you? “I believe that reading is essential in life, and it’s my ‘happy place’. I want to give that back to the public, because books open your mind. I wanted to help out by volunteering my time, and the Book Market is a great cause.” 
What is the most gratifying aspect of the event? “To me, finding a book that someone has been searching for is the best part. It’s even better when it’s the last copy we have!”
Favourite book? “Picking my favourite book would be like picking my favourite child – I can’t pick just one! Some of my favourites are Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Muakami. I also just finished If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino, and highly recommend it.”

Name: Shiela Hirt (Chair of the Board)
Numbers of years volunteering: 18
What led you to become a volunteer? “I was retired and had always been a book person. The Book Market struck me as the perfect opportunity to volunteer!”
Why is the Book Market special to you? “It’s all for the cause, and to better the Children’s Hospital. Knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of so many children and their families means a lot.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of the event? “The most gratifying part is when customers share their personal connection to the hospital, and then tell us to keep and donate the change.” 
Favourite book? “It’s a tie between A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and American Pastoral by Philip Roth.”

As of this year, the Book Market has raised nearly $7 million in support of children’s health care in Manitoba. St. Vital Centre is privileged to have partnered with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba for 30 wonderful years, and we look forward to many more.

The upcoming Children’s Hospital Book Market runs from April 26 - 30. With over 65 different book categories, it’s worth coming down more than once!

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