Hartley Rollins has been secretly buying coffees for St. Joseph’s staff every morning for the past five months. Hartley, whose wife is awaiting placement for residential care, wanted to thank the hospital for its excellent care of his wife in whatever way he could. Left to right: Hartley Rollins, Emma Reukers of Java Junction, and Lynn Dashkewytch, Executive Director of Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation .

There’s been a quiet movement around St. Joseph’s Hospital this summer – one of paying it forward and random acts of kindness, from free coffees to free parking, just to make a little difference in someone’s day at the hospital, whether that’s a patient, visitor, doctor or staff.

The Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation (CVHF) started a daily “Parking Pass-it-on” initiative last month, where visitors receive a free 24-hour parking pass and are asked to pass it on when they’re leaving the hospital.

One morning CVHF’s executive director Lynn Dashkewytch offered a man the free parking pass. In the midst of thanking her Hartley Rollins confessed to participating in his own pay-it-forward initiative– buying coffees for hospital staff each morning at the Java Junction coffee kiosk.

“My wife came into the hospital after a fall about five months ago, and I started [giving Java Junction $10] on a daily basis every day at 8 o’clock, and sometimes again after noon when there was a line up,” Hartley said. “I’d stand back and watch the surprise on faces and it was beautiful.”

“I don’t do it for pats on the back or anything like that; I do it because it’s nice to see the staff smile. I have a daughter who is an E.R. nurse in Burnaby, so I know what goes on for staff in a hospital, good days and bad days. ”

Hartley’s and his wife Loresah have been married for 57 years. He devotedly visits her three times a day every day in the Transitional Care Unit as she waits for placement in a residential care facility.

It’s estimated that since his wife was admitted, Hartley has likely impacted over 600 staff, patients and visitors with his caffeinated random acts of kindness.

“It’s really wonderful,” said Java Junction barista Emma Breukers. “I wish he was here to hear the things people say when they find out their coffee has been paid for.”

“I’m so grateful to have met Hartley that morning and was humbled to find out about his random act of kindness,” Dashkewytch said. “He has such a huge heart for healthcare, for the staff here, and for the care his wife is receiving here. His generosity, gratitude and appreciation of her care is simply inspiring.”

“His name really should be spelled ‘Heart-ley’.”

Hartley is becoming known at St. Joseph’s as more people meet him at the kiosk, and as staff talk about his good deeds on their breaks. After teaching in the Comox Valley for 32 years, “Mr. Rollins” is also running into many former students who are now full grown nurses with their own families.

Not only does Hartley donate $10 or more for coffee each morning; he’s also become a monthly donor to CVHF to help support the healthcare needs of the Comox Valley at St. Joseph’s and the new hospital.

When asked why he decided to support the Foundation on top of his daily coffee gifts, Hartley said: “Because I appreciate the care and the smiles that I see on people’s faces when I come into the hospital.”

With just a cup of coffee, Hartley is single-handedly raising the spirits and adding joy for staff, patients and visitors at the hospital, and during this time of transition to the new hospital, it’s a welcome gesture.

“I’m sure they’re wondering why it’s them, wondering what did they do to get a free coffee,” Hartley said. “A coffee would brighten their day I hope, and start their day on the right foot.”

Cheers to that, Mr. Rollins, and thank you for brightening the days of more than 600 people at our hospital.