“I’ve often been to the Jewish General Hospital,” said Richard Schanck in an interview with his wife, Harriet. “Every time I walked in, I’ve seen this fundraising incubator where people leave their spare change. At one point, I said to Harriet that we should bring our change and put it in.”

Richard, a kind-hearted musician, had more coins than he knew what to do with. For years he would empty his pockets of change and store it away in a safe place. Some nights he would come home from his music gigs with as much as $20 or $30 in coins. As time went by, the amount grew dramatically.

The fundraising incubator that he saw in the lobby was placed to support the JGH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Part of what made Richard want to give to the NICU was spending Christmas at the JGH and seeing children spending their holidays in the hospital. Richard and Harriet never had children, and the cause tugged at their heartstrings.

They checked with Nadine Saumure, the JGH Foundation’s Principal Director of Primary Gifts, who they knew through their past donations to the JGH Foundation. As it happened, Nadine explained, a $6,300 training program for NICU nurses had only been partially funded: the Neonatal Orientation and Education Program (NOEP).

The NOEP provides clinical education to neonatal nurses. It helps to reduce neonatal risk, increase the efficiency of staff, and promote improved neonatal outcomes. Nurses learn to provide high-risk and vulnerable newborns with consistent, high-quality care. Modules include everything from the respiratory system to lactation support.

There was just one problem: after years and years of accumulation, Richard’s loose change filled up three cloth shopping bags. It was a big task to sort them. Richard gathered some of the coins into plastic rolls, and Nadine took over.

After an impressive five-hour marathon of rolling coins, the total amounted to $1,992. Richard opted to top up his pledge to $2,410 to complete the needed funding for the nurses’ training program.

The donation is much appreciated in the NICU, as government funding does not cover these specialized trainings.

“We need to make sure we are up to date on best practices,” said Chloé Décarie-Drolet, Head Nurse of Neonatology. “We do training and the documents are often expensive, so sometimes it’s difficult to enter everything into our budget.”

“When we value education, it also helps with the retention of staff. Our nurses feel their work makes a difference and they want to stay in a stimulating environment,” she continued.

Putting out a helping hand

As for Richard and Harriet, both experienced adversity in their youth, which is part of what inspires them to give to the JGH Foundation and volunteer at organizations like Dans La Rue.

“There’s something about giving other people a chance. Both Richard and I made bad decisions when we were young and learned how difficult life really is – but we had some help from other people to bring ourselves back up. It’s not easy to do when you don’t have somebody putting out a helping hand, especially when it comes to health,” Harriet said.

To Richard and Harriet, every little bit counts. Thanks to Richard’s generous spare change donation, NICU nurses benefit from the latest training.

“We just wanted to put in our two cents’ worth,” Harriet said with a laugh.

Last Updated January 2022

“There’s something about giving other people a chance. Both Richard and I made bad decisions when we were young and learned how difficult life really is – but we had some help from other people to bring ourselves back up. It’s not easy to do when you don’t have somebody putting out a helping hand, especially when it comes to health,”

— Harriet Schanck