In a display of appreciation for health care workers, nearly 180 artists from across the Okanagan produced a total of 407 small paintings for staff at Kelowna General Hospital.
The artwork for the “Share The Sunshine” initiative was revealed at the Okanagan Mission Activity Centre Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 27, just before the wide array of paintings were moved to the hospital for staff to pick and keep for themselves.
Each painting exhibits a positive or uplifting image, and included on the back of the canvas is a message of appreciation, courage or hope.
“I want to say how grateful we are for all that they do and their diligence in taking care of us,” said event organizer Michelle Droettboom.
“We hope that all of these paintings bring them some hope, some joy and some sunshine in their life because they need it. They need it.”
The goal was to give every health care worker at the hospital’s two COVID-19 wards and the ICU department a painting, but there’s more than enough pieces for other staff members to receive one.
“I had no idea how many people it takes to keep us safe. I had no idea,” said Droettboom.
She said that she got the idea for the project following a visit to the Armstrong Sunflower Festival earlier this summer with her granddaughter.
“We were looking at the pictures, my granddaughter and I and I said, ‘That’ll put a little sunshine in your life. Who else needs sunshine?’ I said the people on the ICU staff,” she said. “I literally walked over and called the hospital. I got the idea, and they said it sounds like a good idea.”
She began organizing the initiative on Sept. 3 and put out a call to artists across the Okanagan to see if they were interested in participating. Outside of Kelowna, artists from Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, Vernon, Armstrong and Salmon Arm contributed to the project.
“Every organization I contacted said yes,” she said.
Kelowna-based artist Suzanne Woodward produced two paintings for the initiative and said that Droettboom has a way of getting people enthused and involved.
“Nurses work hard and get a lot of negative feedback. Even right now, just dealing with anti-vaxxers has gotta be sort of depressing for them,” said Woodward. “We just hope we can spread a little bit of sunshine.”
Jaymi Chernoff, the executive director at Kelowna General Hospital, described the initiative as “so touching.”
“It’s been such a tumultuous almost two years now. The health care workers — like everybody else in the community — they get tired, they get fatigued,” said Chernoff.
“To receive a gift like this in recognition from the hearts of so many artists across all of the Okanagan Valley is so amazing. It couldn’t have come at a perfect time.”