A well-known Kamloops philanthropist has pledged to help raise $1 million in bursaries for future nursing students.
Al Patel and the ICCHA Wish Fund are partnering with TRU to establish the ICCHA Wish Community Ambassador Fund, an endowment that will fully fund four years of nursing school for bursary recipients in financial need.
Patel and a group of community donors have already contributed an inaugural donation of $100,000 toward the $1-million goal. For every $50,000 raised, ICCHA Wish can support one student through four years of nursing school at TRU. Patel’s vision is for students from various regions to receive the bursaries and return to their home communities to offer life-saving patient care.
“Doctors and nurses are the backbone of our society and to educate a student nurse in financial need to serve humanity is a divine act,” says Patel, founder of the ICCHA Wish Fund. “After years of fundraising for health care, I’m honoured to expand our vision to also support education.”
ICCHA means wish in Hindi and other languages of India. The ICCHA Fund was established in 2007 to foster critical and advanced health care in Kamloops. For many years, ICCHA Wish has fundraised to support cardiac care at Royal Inland Hospital.
The role of community partnership and the role of health-care workers has been most apparent throughout the pandemic. Nursing is a community-minded profession, and TRU is a community-minded university, says TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Brett Fairbairn.
“TRU and ICCHA Wish share a mission to support the health-care sector and a dedication to serving communities,” Fairbairn says. “TRU has invested greatly in advancing health-care education, so we have skilled professionals well prepared to offer care. Today’s announcement also supports TRU’s commitment to open access and inclusion by reducing financial barriers for students.”
The ICCHA ambassador fund founding donors, who are making the inaugural donation, include Al Patel, Bridgeport Carpet, Charan Rai, Ebata Eye Care, Linda Turner Realty, Lyons Landscaping, Sairam Developments and Windsor Plywood.
All donations to the ICCHA Wish Community Ambassador Fund will support additional bursaries. Individual donors or community groups throughout B.C. and Canada who fund the full bursary amount of $50,000 can support students from a specific community or region they identify.
“This is an amazing gift and a model to allow for the funds to grow and for us to educate students who want to go back and serve their communities. It’s a wonderful vision of ‘grow your own’ to improve health for all,” says TRU Dean of Nursing Rani Srivastava.
In recognition and celebration, TRU will establish the ICCHA Wish Community Education Centre, a learning space in the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health.