Ruth Joyce is a bonafide firecracker, a woman who is easy to talk to whose laughter is infectious.

The 80-year-old has made a name for herself as a volunteer with Scarborough Health Network where she shares her insatiable joy with the hundreds of patients she interacts with on a regular basis. Now, as she plans for longer-term commitment to the hospital, she’s arranging a legacy gift through her will.

Her connection with the hospital runs deep, beginning with the birth of her children. When her son Mark was born in 1971, he experienced complications and had to be admitted to the NICU. As Ruth reflects on this, she remembers how the expertise and compassion of the practitioners helped her through a difficult time.

“That was an experience where I was most grateful for the care he got there,” she says.

Years later, when she retired from teaching, she took up a position volunteering in the children’s unit of the hospital. She recalls one experience when a patient, a young boy, was in traction and it was wintertime. After commenting that he had never seen snow before, Ruth moved his bed to the window so he could see the snowflakes coming down and even ran outside to gather up a pail of snow for him to play with.

She has seemingly volunteered in every department of the hospital, just falling short of donning scrubs and a stethoscope. She presently helps with the volunteers’ newsletter, assists with the curation of the artists’ walkway and tours retirement homes to discuss the benefits of seniors wearing medical alert systems.

As Ruth reflects on all that the hospital has given her, she beams, referring to her volunteer opportunities as a “lifeline” following the passing of her husband who was cared for at the hospital in his final days.

“The camaraderie and closeness of the volunteers was a wonderful, wonderful thing for me to experience during that difficult time,” she says.

Ruth, her husband and two children all devoted their lives to becoming teachers. So when it came time to think of a way to honour her husband’s memory, it seemed only appropriate to invest in education. Since September 2000, the Joyce family has dedicated $42,000 to the Bill and Ruth Joyce Nursing Education Bursary that allows ICU nurses to take additional courses to further their qualifications.

And though Ruth shows no sign of slowing down, she’s decided that she would like to leave one final gift to the hospital when her time comes: in her will, she’s bequeathed a financial contribution to the hospital to further nursing education that will benefit future generations in the years to come.

As she observes, it’s up to all of us to take responsibility for the hospital. Because if the community cares for the hospital, it will care for the community.

For any questions, please contact Verna Chen, Director of Stewardship and Legacy Giving, at 416-438-2911 ext. 6040 or by email at