Giving yourself to others is the most important thing. When you give, you get something in return.

-- Michael Milken

Bill Dawson, Radiothon, 2015

There are few things worse than watching someone trying to communicate who just can’t. Likewise, there is nothing better than being there the first time they do.

Thanks to people like you, I’ve witnessed this event occurring at Bruyère, I’m a volunteer, not a fundraiser so I’ll keep it brief and hopefully inspire you to take the next step.

A few years ago I celebrated my 89th birthday. Looking for a new challenge after 66 years in the construction industry, I became a Bruyère volunteer at Saint-Vincent Hospital.

This decision changed my life!


 The people I’ve met at Bruyère have shown me the importance and impact of a caring community. 

This is why I’m writing to you on behalf of Bruyère to please consider another donation today. As a new volunteer, I was assigned to a wonderful patient named Mary (not her real name). She was as healthy as you or me until one day she got terribly ill, gradually losing the ability to move any part of her body. Without life-support systems she was unable to breathe, swallow, taste or talk. Liquid food had to be pumped, through a tube directly into her stomach.

For years she laid in her hospital bed, unable to communicate. Her active mind was locked inside her body - an unimaginable isolation from the world.

After a while, visits from friends grew further apart. It was very tough on Mary until we found an ingenious way of helping her communicate electronically - surfing the internet, visiting the library and staying in touch with her family, friends and two wonderful grandchildren. Not a miracle, but the result of dedication by the Bruyère staff.

I didn’t know my waking and sleeping moments would be so consumed with thoughts about the patients at Bruyère… trying to find ways I could best serve their needs.

I had no idea how deep my commitment to Bruyère would become. Alzheimer’s entered our home five years ago and now being a 24/7 caregiver became a challenge. Bruyère is actually a break for me as family and friends help at home.

We all have our own personal history. Mary and the other patients I work with are no different. Fortunately, they have Bruyère. With the hospital comes the most caring and dedicated group of professionals and volunteers I’ve ever met.

I’m not sure how you’re connected to Bruyère, but it would be safe to say that if you live long enough in Ottawa, at some point someone you love will have their life cared for in a loving environment thanks to Bruyère.

You hear about government and how it continues to stretch budgets for our hospitals. As our population grows older it becomes tougher for hospitals to keep pace with the new realities of caring for people who are living longer, often with a long list of illnesses and physical challenges.


This is another reason why your support of Bruyère is so crucial – and welcomed. 


The Bruyère Research Institute at Bruyère and the high-tech group at Saint-Vincent Hospital are doing outstanding work. Their teams of researchers are in the hospital every day. They work with patients, nurses, staff and highly qualified volunteers to determine better ways of delivering care.

I’ve seen what they do and marvel at the difference their research makes. This is unique to Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and we – as citizens – are lucky to have them right here in our own backyard.

I have the privilege to work with a small team of technical volunteers and staff at Saint-Vincent Hospital. Our backgrounds in engineering, business and hi-tech complement each other. Together we are developing unique tools using electronics and hardware to bring the outside world to our patients who cannot fend for themselves. We have been invited to present a paper to the International Society of Augmented & Alternative Communications (ISAAC) at their convention in Toronto this year on August 6th.

I’m writing this letter, not only as a volunteer, but also as a dedicated donor. I truly believe that Bruyère is unique in their service to the Ottawa community. The on-going health and technical research has a potential for worldwide use.


From tragedy, Bruyère delivers hope and we do it with the help of people like you. It is your investment in Bruyère that allows us to continue our work.

I hope you will please take a moment and send your gift today in support of Bruyère.

Sincerely yours,


William F. (Bill) Dawson
Volunteer, Donor, Believer Bruyère