After ten years of service working at Surrey Hospitals Foundation, Yolanda Bouwman made the decision to retire in 2022. In light of Leave a Legacy Month, we’re excited to share some of Yolanda’s inspirational outlook on giving, and why she decided to leave an estate gift to four charities, including Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

Yolanda’s Career from Laboratory Medicine to Healthcare Fundraising

Yolanda’s background in healthcare first started when she got her medical degree in laboratory medicine. From there, Yolanda decided to explore the world of life insurance sales and financial planning, where she learned to connect with people.

“I was a financial planner for a period of time… and it was in that career that I learned about the impact you can have with estate giving from a tax perspective,” says Yolanda.

After five years in financial planning, Yolanda knew that her work needed to have a deeper impact on people’s lives. “At a certain point in everyone’s life, I think most people anyway, you look at your work, and you kind of go: when I retire or when I’m on my deathbed, has the work of my hands made a difference?”

This marked the change in Yolanda’s career as she moved on to become a fundraiser in healthcare. Although this shift came later, Yolanda’s natural desire to give back to the community was something she had learned since the young age of ten.

“My parents led by example. I grew up below the poverty line all my life, but my mom and dad were very committed to giving 10% to their church and to other things they believed in,” says Yolanda. “My mom and dad had five kids; they divided their estate into six. So, each of us gets a sixth, and the final one-sixth goes to charity. The organizations they believe in. And we knew that as kids.”

Yolanda’s generosity and her grasp on the significance of community support paved the way for her fundraising career, as she went on to work at St. Paul’s Hospital, Alzheimer Society, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, and finally, Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

Catalyzing Change: Yolanda’s Contribution to Healthcare Excellence

One of Yolanda’s biggest drivers when she worked as a fundraiser was seeing the impact she had on supporting hospital staff and patients.

“I don’t think people realize in the Lower Mainland or anywhere in BC, the amazing programs we have at Surrey Memorial, and the amazing staff. Some of the doctors and the nurses and the people in the lab that I had the privilege to get to know; it was really a wonderful feeling to know that the work from my hands was going to benefit them, and that in turn would benefit patients.”

During her time at Surrey Hospitals Foundation, Yolanda contributed to the success of various campaigns, from large-scale fundraisers such as an $8 million campaign for equipment at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, to supporting Surrey Memorial Hospital’s surgical team, and much, much more.

“I know I’m not working anymore, but I know today there are people with esophagus cancer who are getting this amazing surgery from a POEM machine that we bought. The surgery is minimally-invasive and they recover much quicker. And I just think, yeah, I had something to do with that.”

Yolanda’s Legacy

Today, Yolanda continues to carry forward her ethos of generosity. “Your legacy, whether it’s your living legacy, the people who you impacted, the children you raised, what the community remembers of you; that’s legacy. But so is the money you leave through your estate. It’s the final wish for you to make a difference in something. You’re leaving this earth knowing, still, I’m making a difference.”

Surrey Hospitals Foundation has been greatly privileged to have Yolanda as a leader, as a donor, and as a cherished friend. Her remarkable contributions to healthcare in the community will endure, leaving a life-changing and lasting impact.

Leaving a gift in your will is a powerful way to ensure that your generous spirit will change healthcare for generations on. Learn more about how you can make a gift in your will today.