Ex-nurse donates $3.8M for health and fitness unit in Downtown Eastside wherever she labored in 1950s


VANCOUVER – Lily Lee’s first contribution to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown neighborhoods was as a 21-calendar year-aged local community nurse in the 1950s when she was fresh out of the College of British Columbia.

Based mostly in Strathcona, Lee administered inoculations, acted as a college nurse and served as a liaison in between wellness and welfare, once in a while encountering “the odd human being who has had way too considerably to drink.”

Lee, 88, is now creating a unique kind of contribution — a particular donation of $3.8 million towards a community overall health device that will provide both the Chinatown and Downtown Eastside communities.

The wellbeing centre less than construction at 58 West Hastings St. will develop into a 50,000-square-foot integrated facility and is scheduled to open up in the spring of 2024.

Vancouver Coastal Overall health, which will operate the facility, claimed in a assertion it would deliver simple obtain to a wide spectrum of providers, including for those in have to have of specialised psychological wellbeing and dependancy troubles, household wellbeing and seniors care.

Lee, who made her donation by means of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation previous week, mentioned her early encounters in the neighborhood a lot more than 65 years in the past experienced stayed with her and she taken care of “a comfortable location” for its citizens.

“I was a community health and fitness nurse in that location a long time in the past, and I have a really powerful emotion to enable the men and women in that place,” she reported.

“The persons that need to have some aid, you know, health intelligent and mentally… I believed it would be great to have a middle that they could go to. So which is why I resolved to donate there.”

Lee grew up in Inform Bay and moved to Vancouver at age 16 to go to UBC, in which she satisfied her upcoming spouse, Robert Lee, who went on to grow to be a prominent genuine estate developer and philanthropist.

Lily Lee reported her obligations in the Downtown Eastside in the 1950s prolonged beyond health and fitness care to supporting identify sufferers who required added welfare help.

“I actually savored it. It felt incredibly risk-free and men and women had been normally really pleasant,” explained Lee. “There are a great deal far more drug issues now.”

In honor of Lee’s donation, the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation and the VGH and UBC Clinic Foundation have proposed that the centre be named the Lily Lee Neighborhood Health Middle Hastings.

“It really is a pretty humbling experience, but it also would make me experience wonderful,” Lee reported.

Lee explained the donation funds arrived from early investment decision in Vancouver’s authentic estate current market.

She married her spouse, who died in 2020, following they graduated from UBC. He donated $5 million to UBC Sauder School of Company, the place the Robert H. Lee Graduate College was named in his honor in 2006.

Lee’s daughter, Carol Lee, is chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Basis. She explained a custom of philanthropy had been handed down from the two of her grandfathers.

“Developing up, my mother and father often experienced the philosophy (that) it is really crucial if you have a little something that you should share with other people .… I believe that we all incredibly much observe that basic principle,” explained Carol Lee.

She reported her mom was thrilled to contribute toward a facility to gain people of both equally Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside.

Vivian Eliopoulos, president and CEO of Vancouver Coastal Health and fitness, reported in a statement the new centre would offer culturally ideal and safe treatment.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Lily Lee and for the support from all of our partners on this well being-care initiative that will permit us to boost entry to high-quality treatment and products and services for the clients in the neighborhood,” mentioned Eliopoulos.

The naming of the center is matter to acceptance by the provincial federal government and the board of Vancouver Coastal Wellness.

In addition to the wellbeing-care centre, a 10-storey social housing venture will also be constructed at 58 West Hastings to provide 230 new models to people today residing on welfare.

This report by The Canadian Push was initially revealed Nov. 11, 2022.

This story was made with the economic assistance of the Meta and Canadian Push Information Fellowship.

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