For the past year, Gold Eagle Casino senior operations manager Roger Anderson has had an important volunteer gig: serving as the chair of the Battlefords Union Hospital Foundation.
That appointment ran for one year and is now winding down. It means that Anderson will be soon moving on from a board on which he has played an active role over the last six years. The directors on the board typically serve three consecutive two-year terms for a maximum of six years, at which point they move on.
“Over six years I’ve had the opportunity to work with such great staff, meet such great people in the community,” said Anderson. “People who volunteer.”
It’s been a great responsibility for Anderson, who hails from the George Gordon First Nation, which is located between Regina and Wynyard.
His role on the BUH Foundation board came about six and a half years ago when one of the board members approached him about joining.
Around that same time his employer, Gold Eagle Casino, was heavily involved in the Festival of Trees fundraiser for the foundation. The casino has been a Diamond Sponsor of the event starting in 2009. The Gold Ridge Centre, which adjoins the casino to the east, was the venue for the Festival of Trees during that time as well.
The BATC CDC sponsored a number of initiatives involving the hospital over the last number of years, Anderson noted.
But Anderson also believes the board saw value in having diversity within its ranks.
“They may have wanted a representative — a First Nations representative — on the board as well,” said Anderson.
“Being First Nation, working for a First Nations company and having an opportunity to come and be on the BUH Foundation and work together —those bridges are building to get everybody to work together,” he said.
That’s “sort of the word used in the past, is building bridges,” Anderson said.
“We are working together for the betterment of health care, for the betterment of health care in general. Why not have multiple nationalities? It’s a good thing for everyone.”
Anderson took over as chair a year ago from Brenda Sparrow. He said he’s gained extensive knowledge from her.
“These past six years … have been extraordinary, a huge learning curve for me in the health care, in the patient care. Working and meeting people in the hospital, meeting people at the foundation, meeting so many volunteers.”
He quickly found out his biggest hurdle was simply learning about health care.
“I learned a lot about what we need … in the Battlefords, what we need in this area. What we lack in this area.”
Old equipment, and the consequences of equipment breakdowns to the hospital’s operations, is one serious issue.
“Sometimes you fall behind because of that,” Anderson said.
“And if you don’t have upgraded stuff, you wear your staff down.”
Anderson also learned the ins and outs of fundraising during his time at the board.
He marvels at the work of his colleagues who either work for or have volunteered with BUH Foundation.
“The ladies at the foundation — Claudette (McGuire) and the group — are just constantly working. It’s unbelievable sometimes the amount of work they do there.”
He also learned something else during his time on the board:
“How much people care, how much people give. It’s so eye-opening. It makes you feel good to be part of the board.”
There have been a number of fundraising activities he has been active with on the board. There is the Monthly Lottery and also the $100,000 Cash Lottery.
Another big fundraiser is the Wayne Pruden Memorial Golf Tournament, now in its 20th year. It has raised over $400,000 for the BUH Foundation over its history.
There is also Ladies Night, and the annual Festival of Trees.
Another fundraising initiative for BUH Foundation happens at the Remai Art Gallery in Saskatoon, where a number of tree birdhouses donated to BUH are sold.
“Claudette and company are constantly selling out on those and running back to Saskatoon” to resupply them, he said.
During Anderson’s time as chair the BUH Foundation introduced SIDNE — a Simulated Impaired Driving Experience — to the Battlefords.
It’s a battery-operated go-cart designed to simulate the effects of impaired driving. It’s used in presentations to Grade 9 and 10 students as part of BUH’s PARTY program — Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth — where the students take their turn at the wheel trying to drive the go-kart through an obstacle course.
The BUH Foundation completed a successful $30,000 capital campaign to purchase the vehicle. Anderson got to experience a ride in a SIDNE vehicle when the program was introduced to the Battlefords last fall. It was a harrowing experience, he said, and a good way to experience first-hand the negative effects of drunk driving.
This is all in addition to his day job at the Gold Eagle Casino, where he has seen tremendous growth and change particularly in the last few years.
Last year saw the completion of major renovations to the casino, with a new 5,000 square-foot addition.
It’s designed as a smoking room for casino patrons, and it’s ventilated with air pushing it straight up from underneath the floor.
Before, the smoking area was in the main casino, which became notorious for the stink of cigarettes that hung around the hall due to poor ventilation.
Now that it’s a non-smoking area in the main casino. Anderson notes it makes for a much more pleasant atmosphere when accessing guest services or getting food or drinks from the cash bar.
An additional multi-purpose room has also been added, which is booked for smaller gatherings and meetings, such as the Chamber On Tap series that is put on by the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce.
“Our goal is to provide different types of service levels and to provide that comfortable environment,” said Anderson. “Come join your friends, come to the Gold Eagle and have some fun.”
All in all, Anderson is reflective of his time on the BUH Board.
“I’m really sad that I’m leaving, and hopefully in the future I can do some other things, but I look forward to moving, maybe into some other boards, and do some other stuff in the community. I won’t stop.”
Now that he’s had a chance to serve on one board, Anderson has a desire now to keep going and perhaps put his new experience to good use elsewhere to help to the community.
“Maybe I can bring something and help, but I can also learn lots. You never stop learning, it’s just unbelievable.”