Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Honoured for living a life of caring

  • Print
Sonia Michalyshen and Phyllis Reader are shown in International HOPE's Yukon Avenue warehouse.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

Sonia Michalyshen and Phyllis Reader are shown in International HOPE's Yukon Avenue warehouse. Photo Store

The old mantra of ‘waste not, want not’ has benefited those in need across the world.

Longtime East Kildonan resident Sonia Michalyshen, who now lives in Oakbank, and Westwood resident Phyllis Reader were honoured by Lt.-Gov. Philip S. Lee (on behalf of Gov. Gen. David Johnston) with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in a ceremony at Government House on Feb. 11.

The awards, first handed out in 1995, "recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community in Canada or abroad", according to the lieutenant governor’s website.

Michalyshen and Reader co-founded International HOPE Canada Inc., a volunteer-based non-profit organization that collects and distributes refurbished medical equipment and other sterilized medical supplies that would otherwise go to waste.

"I didn’t realize that I would be picked as one of the people to be awarded this," said Michalyshen, who was a post-op nurse at Concordia Hospital for 17 years. "Phyllis and I were instrumental in getting it started, but you just don’t think it will amount to something so prestigious as a Governor General’s award."

Reader, who was an operating-room nurse at St. Boniface Hospital, first started initiatives that would form the basis of International HOPE in 1997 before being connected with Michalyshen, who was stationed in Malawi at the time, in 2001.

She said her bosses were cautious when the organization was making its first steps, though she and Michalyshen recalled front-line workers hoped to see the equipment put to good use. She gave the example of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority signing a new contract with a different glove supplier, and all the gloves from the previous supplier would be tossed, even though the expiration date hadn’t passed. That also happened with syringes, needles and masks, they added.

"We were on the cutting edge, at that time, of recycling medical and surgical equipment which now of course is becoming more vogue," Reader said. "We were the forerunners of that concept, so we had to iron out some of the glitches certainly with the manufacturers, hospital administrators and the regional health authority, as well as politicians.

"It’s caught on. People are appalled that this would end up in the landfill."

International HOPE is also able to acquire items that have passed their expiration date but are still usable and single-use items, like suture or gauze, that have been opened but haven’t touched a patient’s blood or body secretions. Reader explained these products are welcomed in other parts of the world, as items like gloves are washed and sterilized until they tear.

"Because it’s single-use-only, it’s chucked, but it’s still clean," Reader said of how single-use items used to be treated. "We would get all of that product, and we can recycle or resterilize that. Instead of throwing it in the garbage, they (nurses) throw it in a mission box."

The organization first operated in the back rooms of Westminster United Church and Holy Redeemer Parish, but was later given 40,000 square feet of space in a Yukon Avenue warehouse.

For more information or to learn how to help out, visit www.internationalhope.ca

Michalyshen and Reader said volunteers are always needed to sort and pack items.

Other Manitobans to receive the award this year were Steinbach’s Julian Austin, Teulon’s Nancy Fleury, and Craig Houston and Robert Raymond Williams, both of Winnipeg.

 

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Fall Arts Guide

We preview what’s new and what’s coming up in Winnipeg’s new arts season

View our Fall Arts Guide

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

Do you agree with the Winnipeg School Division’s decision to ban e-cigarettes?

View Results