Skip to content

Service to others keeps Guelph General Hospital's volunteer of the year coming back

'I’ve really become committed to this, to helping others,' says Dianne Steinke
Longtime Guelph General Hospital volunteer Dianne Steinke. Barbara Geernaert for

Since 2002, Dianne Steinke has been a volunteer at Guelph General Hospital and to date, she has over 1,600 recorded volunteer hours. 

Steinke was recently recognized as this year’s recipient of the Mary Hales volunteer of the year award at the hospital’s annual volunteer appreciation luncheon. 

“Service to others is the rent we pay for our place here on earth:" a quote she shares from legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, is something she takes to heart.

“I really try to live by that,” she says. “I’ve really become committed to this, to helping others.”

Steinke herself was a patient at the hospital when she noticed the kindness and care around her. 

“I started volunteering here because I was a patient here. I thought, when I get better, I’m going to volunteer here,” Steinke said. “And when I went back to work feeling better, that’s what I did.”

She started out as a volunteer in the Courtyard Boutique. 

Since then, she has been president of the Volunteer Association Board of Directors and is currently finishing her last year as past president. 

“I did that because I thought it would be a new challenge, so I decided to come on board,” Steinke said. 

“Several people approached me to take part and so I first became vice president, a role that prepares you for being president with lots of agenda preparation meetings and helping prepare the flyer.”

But Steinke grew up in retail and she didn’t want to give up her work with the hospital boutique. 

“And so, I became a buyer for the boutique,” she said. 

Steinke attends gift shows twice a year to stock new and exciting items to sell.

“You just don’t know what to buy. It’s hard to know but I just love it. I’m preparing for another gift show in Toronto,” she said. “There will be one in August and one in January.”

A wander into the Courtyard Boutique is a heart-felt treat especially for anyone wanting to find that special something for their loved one’s stay in hospital – something for everyone, young or old. 

“For me, it really is about helping. I also volunteer at the Silvercreek Community Market. I just have empathy for people and I love helping them,” Steinke says. 

Volunteers at the hospital come from all walks of life and are of all ages. They have one mission in mind - to help make a positive difference for patients and their families. 

“At the hospital, it’s all about volunteers. We have many student volunteers which is so great, but they tend to come and go and then we have those who have been here for many, many years.”

Steinke says the hospital is always looking for volunteers and there are so many areas in which they can help from day surgery, digital imaging and work with older patients. 

“There is so much you can do here,” Steinke said.

The Guelph General Hospital Volunteer Association goes back over 125 years and continues to grow. 

Currently, there are 275 volunteers who provide support throughout the hospital and they contribute about 15,500 hours of community service each year. 

The majority of funds raised through the Courtyard Boutique, the H.E.L.P.P. Lottery and the Vendor Program is given back to the hospital in support of helping purchase equipment for patient care. 

“Thank you to all our volunteers for their dedication and contribution to GGH over the past year,” says Laura Hutchings, Director of Volunteer Resources, Student Registration and Spiritual Care. 

“We couldn’t do it without you.”

The Guelph General Hospital Volunteer Association also provides angel pins for each patient upon completion of their chemotherapy treatment. It also hands out afghans to patients in various areas of the hospital including, chemotherapy and palliative dialysis.

This year, the association donated $49,800 to purchaser a flex uteroscope, a vein finder, a bladder scanner and an electrocardiogram machine. 

It also awards a $500 bursary to a fourth-year nursing student from McMaster University or Conestoga College from the Guelph Wellington area with the highest grade point average. 

Receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award was a great honour for Steinke. 

“I felt so privileged,” she said. “It feels so good to be recognized.”

Steinke continues to focus on ways to help raise funds for the hospital.

“Since being here, it’s great to see the funds go to something that’s needed, to see where the money is going and how it’s helping people and volunteers can see that,” she said. 

And Steinke is determined to help improve patient’s lives.

“As long as I am in good health, I will keep doing it. I foresee changes coming and everything changes with the times,” she said. 

“But everyone here loves what they are doing. And that’s why we’re here.”