Back about 25 years ago, I worked part-time at my local Canadian Tire store in Burlington, Ontario. I started off “on the floor,” selling Commodore 64s and autobody fiberglass, and later moved upstairs to work in the comptroller’s office making Lotus 1-2-3, then a novelty, do nifty things with wage and sales analysis.
The owner of that Canadian Tire store was a man named G.W. Line. We called him “Mr. Line.” He was a smart guy, who ran a tight ship. He gave good Christmas bonuses, and was generally well-liked by his employees. And he didn’t shy from coming “out on the floor” to talk to the people who worked for him.
Tonight, looking over a donation solicitation from the QEH Foundation here in Charlottetown, I remembered a story that Mr. Line told me once.
He was on the Board of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation (two of my brothers were born there), and part of this meant going “door to door” to larger businesses to seek donations. Starting out that day, he’d hit a couple of places that he was sure would give generously, only to find himself walking away with small cheques of $100, or $500 — this from businesses doing millions of dollars worth of business each year selling cars or building houses. Towards the end of the day, somewhat dispirited, he dropped by Voortman’s, a cookie maker up the road and across the highway from the store.
He was shown into the Mr. Voortman’s office and he made his sales pitch. Given the day he’d been having, he didn’t expect a lot.
After hearing what he had to say, Mr. Voortman took out his cheque book, made out a cheque for $50,000, and handed it to him. “Obviously the hospital is important to my community: you look after my employees, my customers, and my family. It only makes sense that I contribute.” And that was that.
Needless to say, Mr. Line’s day was made.
When I think about all that my small family has been through at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here in Charlottetown over the past 10 years — everything from gallbladder surgery to knee surgery to having a baby — it’s hard not to feel like Mr. Voortman. We don’t have $50,000 to donate, of course, but every year we try to make a donation. It only makes sense.