Bruce County couple support Georgian’s nursing campaign

John and Shirley Reaburn invest in the nurses of tomorrow

Shirley Reaburn chuckles when she says she’s a newcomer to Bruce County, with only 22 years under her belt. Her husband, John Reaburn, is a ‘Bruce County boy,’ born and raised. He grew up in Chesley and spent most of his 85 years living in the area.

His love for the rural community knows no bounds, and it’s why he and Shirley like to give back to local initiatives that mean a lot to them. After attending an event, called The Rounds, in December 2021, hosted by Georgian College, they chose to support the Frontline Support: Health-care Heroes Closer to Home campaign with a pledge of $100,000.

An older white couple standing outside smiling at the camera. They're dressed up in business attire.

“It’s the right thing to do. We like the idea of bringing a nursing degree to the Owen Sound area after all these years,” says John, noting that they were both impressed with the realism of new simulation manikins the students will be using, and the nursing expertise and passion of the faculty.

In the fall of 2021, the Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, announced that Georgian College will be able to offer an Honours Bachelor of Science – Nursing (BScN) degree at its Owen Sound and Barrie campuses, beginning with its inaugural class starting this September 2022.

“We’re so grateful for individuals, like John and Shirley Reaburn, who have taken the time to learn about our new BScN program and invested in the well-being of their local community,” says Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College. “With the leadership of our local volunteer advisory group, we have seen the community rally behind our efforts in a most significant way. New gifts are accelerating our ability to renew our facilities and equipment, transform technology and foster student success for the next generation of nurses. It’s inspiring.”

To get ready for the BScN program at the Owen Sound Campus, Georgian is purchasing cutting-edge equipment and will transform over 10,000 square feet to create a state-of-the-art Nursing and Wellness Wing.

John and Shirley met 22 years ago, after both of their spouses died only five days apart. They were introduced by Shirley’s brother-in-law, who was friends with John. Not only were they able to get each other through the worst time of their lives, they ended up falling in love.

From the very start of their friendship, they’ve been keenly aware of how important nurses are to the well-being of their community. As they were about to mark their 20th wedding anniversary last September, they were reminded again, each with their own serious health issues.

It’s one of the reasons that we wanted to support the new BScN program,. We’ve been such good users of the local health system in the last year. We so appreciate the fact that we’ve got our small hospitals and excellent services in the area, but during these visits, we’ve also heard about the nursing shortage.

– Shirley Reaburn

As a young man who left Bruce County to attend teachers’ college and teach, John also knew students who left the area to take nursing in Toronto. He returned to Bruce County, but most of the nurses he knew stayed in the city to work.

“I think if you train them here, they’re more likely to stay here,” says Shirley. “If they go away to train, they’re liable to get hired down there somewhere.”

“It’s a necessity and sometimes in our life, we’re going to get sick and we’re going to need them,” adds John.

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