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Café at St. Joseph's Hospital named after generous couple

Tom and Irma Trofimenkoff were saluted for the support they have shown to the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation and numerous organizations in the Estevan area.

ESTEVAN - The St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation has paid tribute to an Estevan couple for their immense generosity. 

A grand opening was held July 9 at the hospital for Tom and Irma's Café , honouring the life and philanthropy of the late Tom and Irma Trofimenkoff. Foundation executive director Lori Gervais spoke at the dedication and then cake was served.

"They were regulars here and they were very familiar faces to all of us here at the hospital," said Gervais. "I started in 2018 and they were here almost every day for lunch, so we had quite an opportunity to sit and visit and hear about their travels. They visited with staff, and we had others come in and have lunch with them as well."

Once or twice a year, Tom and Irma stopped by with a donation to the hospital foundation. Gervais described them as friendly, generous and passionate about local health care, and they always wanted to have their donation go where it was needed the most.

Tom and Irma Trofimenkoff passed away within a few months of each other in 2020. After their deaths, it was revealed they left estate donations to a number of causes, including the foundation, the St. Joseph's Healthcare Auxiliary, the new Estevan Regional Nursing Home Committee and the Hospitals of Regina Foundation. 

In 2021, they were posthumously recognized with an Outstanding Legacy Philanthropy Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) South Saskatchewan chapter.

The Trofimenkoffs were married for 47 years. They travelled to more than 50 countries around the world, but always called Estevan home and were proud supporters of the community.

A dedication inside Tom and Irma's Café pays tribute to the couple and has Irma's hand-written letters and photos of their travels. A map of the world shows countries they visited, and their bio states they enjoyed 100 river and 500 ocean cruise days.

"They were very unassuming people and the most generous people I've ever met," said Gervais.

Tom and Irma's family were very supportive of having the cafeteria named after the couple, Gervais said.

"We wanted to specifically share their story, and for staff, everyone was used to Tom and Irma being around and I feel like this way they are still there."

Gervais said naming the cafeteria after the Trofimenkoffs was a perfect way to honour the couple because it was where you could find them. While Irma spent some time living in the hospital's long-term care unit, most of their hospital meals came while they were living in the community.

Gervais noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of people who came for lunch at the hospital.

Several upgrades were completed at the cafeteria through the Trofimenkoffs' support, including painting, replacing ceiling tiles, adding the dedication wall, and adding new covers for the chairs. They were cosmetic changes, but they helped improve the appearance of the eating area.

"People are very appreciative, and I think just having the story of Tom and Irma on the wall, even people who aren't aware can spend some time and really see why it's called Tom and Irma's Café," said Gervais.