Tom Ehrlich can easily make his way through the twists and turns of redeveloping a heritage building in downtown Toronto — just don’t ask him to navigate a Simcoe County hiking trail.
“We get lost,” he laughs, as his wife, Karen, nods in agreement.
The couple has a cottage in Innisfil’s Big Bay Point neighbourhood but admit that, when they’re up north, they don’t usually wander farther than the well-marked trails at a nearby resort or a snowshoe outing on Lake Simcoe. Though they’re mainly there on weekends now, the cottage has been in Karen’s family for more than 45 years, and Tom and Karen have cherished memories of their now-grown children and their cousins spending whole summers on the lake. Beyond their family’s deep emotional connection to Simcoe Muskoka, Tom has also been doing business in Barrie since 1990.
Over the years, the couple has seen the area’s exponential growth first-hand and understood the challenges that the region was facing, particularly when it comes to health care. And during the pandemic that became particularly acute.
After connecting with long-time friend Dr. Mitchell Whyne, an emergency room doctor at RVH, they felt compelled to do something. “Hearing his stories and knowing the stresses he and his colleagues were facing was eye-opening,” says Karen. “We wanted to support them.”
Since investing in high-quality health care has been an important part of their philanthropic giving in Toronto, supporting a regional health centre in Barrie just made sense. “RVH needs support to handle the load, especially given that it is an acute-care hospital for the north.” As committed members of both the Toronto and Innisfil communities, the Ehrlichs see the value of having a strong facility like RVH to take the pressure off GTA hospitals.
“The announcement of RVH’s new southern campus in Innisfil is really important for the community,” says Tom. “We wanted to help get the planning started. It’s a privilege to work with people like the doctors at RVH and those at the RVH Foundation, who are trying to do good in the community. We truly get more out of it than we ever put in.”
Are you inspired by Tom and Karen’s story? Learn more about the impact you can have with a gift to RVH here.