Over $1 million in funding has been announced for two local hospitals and a community organization, following a donation from a deceased community member.

Lawrence “Laurie” Bednarchuk of Kenora has left $350,000 each to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, the Lake of the Woods Community Foundation and the Dryden Regional Health Centre. Each organization received their first bequest payment of $175,000 yesterday.

“Community was important to Laurie. He wanted to give back to the community and make a difference. Laurie was a generous person and cared very deeply for the less fortunate in our communities.” Don Parfitt, friend and executor.

Bednarchuk was born and raised in Kenora, and worked as a skilled tradesman across Canada and the United States. Friends and family say he always came home to the Lake of the Woods area, and spent much time in Kenora and Dryden. He passed away in November of 2017 in Kenora.

“Over 25 years ago Laurie came to our hospital to be treated for an eye injury; he credited the nurses and physicians with saving his vision,” said Chuck Schmitt, manager of fund-raising and recruitment at the Dryden hospital.

“Laurie always remembered this and his gift to community health care in Dryden is something we will never forget. It’s an incredible story of giving from a man of few words; we are so grateful”.

“We’re quite honoured and touched by the gesture. This is a real example of the power of passion and commitment to quality of care. It’s a powerful bequest for us,” said Kim Vares, Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Relations for the DRHC.

Vares added that the donation is the largest bequest ever for the Dryden Regional Health Centre. The hospital plans to allocate the funding into the hospital foundation, and will be used for future equipment.

“The commitment to community and Lake of the Woods was clearly a passion for Laurie,” said Executive director of the Community Foundation. “Those of us who live in this wonderful part of the world understand this connection. We are honoured to receive Laurie’s bequest, which will make a difference in the lives of many in our communities.”

“Gifts of bequests are bitter sweet. I would much prefer to shake his hand, look him in the eyes and say thank you!,” said Jess Rheault, executive director of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation.

“What I can do now is honour his wish to give back to the hospital that cared for him during his final weeks and honour him by allocating a portion of that to our hospital endowment where his love for the community will continue to give back for many years to come.”

The Dryden Regional Health Centre, Kenora and Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation and the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation all say that they are humbled to receive such a generous gift from a lifelong resident of Kenora.

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