When physician Michele Donsky returned from her ordeal on Mt. Kilimanjaro, after she was evacuated by Global Rescue from Africa’s tallest mountain with signs of a life-threatening illness, she decided to contribute to a local charity called Art à la Carte, “in honor of the Global Rescue team who helped me this past summer,” she wrote in an email.

The non-profit organization, based in her hometown of Calgary, brings comfort to hospitalized cancer patients by decorating their rooms with paintings and photographs from local artists, and more importantly, bringing conversation and new friendships to the patient’s bedside.

“The essence of our program is, in fact, not the art,” the program’s Executive Director Debbie Baylin wrote in an email. “The art is merely a conduit for connection both physical and intellectual – people, memory, passion, purpose. Our program reminds people of the fullness of their lives and that they are so much more than their diseases. Michele embodies all of this when she ministers to her patients and, as such, understands the objective we, in our very small way, attempt to achieve.”

The mission is not dissimilar to some of the work that Global Rescue does around the world. In addition to life-saving advice and the comfort of having Global Rescue personnel bedside, it is often the attention paid to the little things — like bringing chocolates, cards from home, or a take-out meal from a local restaurant –that is remembered long after the patient has recovered.

“We admire the work that the volunteers at Art à la Carte are doing for patients,” said Global Rescue Chief Executive Officer Daniel Richards. “For people who are in their darkest hour, the value of having a reassuring presence at their bedsides cannot be overstated.”


(Alan Littlewood Reprinted with permission – St. Michael’s volunteer newsletter May 2005)




(“Island Paradise”, Image by Saunders)