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Nursing class of 1968 to be celebrated

Organizers hoping to contact grads ahead of May 25 event

Attention, graduates of the former Orillia School of Nursing’s 1968 class: Your peers want to celebrate you.

The Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) Nurses Alumnae is preparing for its annual dinner, when it recognizes those who graduated from the program 50 years earlier. This year, it’s the class of 1968’s turn in the spotlight, but only half of the 16 graduates have been located. The OSMH Nurses Alumnae is hoping to track down the other eight.

“It’s a sisterhood that has been existence for 100 years,” Glenna Tinney said of the alumnae organization. “We want people to recognize that this was a significant part of their lives.”

In the past 50 years, a lot has changed — including the surnames of graduates who married — making it difficult to contact some of them.

Each year at the dinner, the graduating class of 50 years earlier is feted during an evening of food, fellowship and fundraising.

This year’s event will take place May 25 at the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre, with socializing at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6. The event will include a silent auction and a 50/50 draw.

The last class of nurses at the Orillia School of Nursing graduated in 1974, and Tinney wants to make sure the event is still around when it comes time to celebrate that group of grads in 2024. For that to happen, “we need new blood,” she said.

“There aren’t enough Soldiers’ graduates to maintain an alumnae,” said Tinney, who graduated in 1972.

That’s why the organization welcomes members who are graduates of any certified nursing school or program. About half of the current membership did not attend the Orillia School of Nursing.

“With people passing away or going into retirement homes, our numbers are dwindling,” Tinney said, noting members range in age from 65 to 99.

The OSMH Nurses Alumnae has left its mark on the community over the years, donating at least $40,000 to assist the local hospital. The money has helped cover the costs of everything from beds, dishes, pictures and decorations to lifts that help nurses get patients out of bed.

“It was a very present, functioning force in its day,” she said.

There are about 20 members now, and Tinney would like to see that number increase. A bolstered membership, she said, would help to ensure an annual celebration continues to, and beyond, 2024. It would also allow the group to be more active in terms of fundraising.

For more details about the event, or to provide information about members of the class of 1968, contact Tinney at 705-835-6711 or 2glennatinney@gmail.com.