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HELPING PEOPLE THRIVE, EVEN WITH LIFE-LIMITING ILLNESS
We all want to live life to the fullest – even when we have a life-limiting illness, and the Hospice Society exists to help people do exactly that.
Often when we consider the word “hospice” we think of a place for people who are actively dying. While the Hospice Society Program Coordinator, Bill Harder, does agree that “hospice” can mean that, in our local area, it also means helping people to make the most of every single day.
The local Hospice Society offers a variety of programs to support people dealing with grief and life-limiting illnesses. More than eight hundred people took advantage of the available support last year, by participating in one or more of the nine different programs available.
Those programs range from Grief and Bereavement workshops, to a “Death Café” discussion group, a Grief Support Walking Group, a Grief Companion Program and school-based grief support programs, a Men’s Cooking Circle, a special program that assists older rural residents to access appropriate resources and support, Palliative Care and End of Life Care.
That’s a lot for a small, not-for-profit organization with an eleven-member Board to provide. The organization’s first fifteen support volunteers were trained in 2012, through the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. There are now about sixty people who regularly give of their time to support those who are in the palliative or end stages of life. Their joint contribution usually totals between two and three hundred hours each and every month.
Volunteers integrate with individuals and families and stay involved with them at every stage of the process. The Hospice Society has no political or religious affiliations, so it is able to support people from all backgrounds. They can offer solace and support, as well as helping families access other resources or services they may need.
Bill acts as the coordinator, to ensure volunteers are properly trained, programs get off the ground and everything continues to run smoothly. He is also the one who prepares grant applications and looks toward the future, in support of the Board’s vision to make a hospice building available to local residents at some point in the future.
According to research, while 90% of Canadians say they would like to die at home, the reality is that about 70% die in hospital. One of the goals of the local Hospice Society is to interact with other agencies and provide support to families, in order to increase the number of people who are able to die at home.
In addition, the Hospice Society has a longer-term plan to create a home-like hospice building, as a “second-best” option so that if people can’t remain at home they have another choice.
The Hospice Society considers the Foundation to be a collaborator in the wellness of our community and, as Bill says, “we appreciate that it will fund our organization without putting strings on what their grants will cover. They are flexible in letting us identify what we need and that’s very crucial.”
“We know the Foundation has many choices of organizations it could support. With the help of the Foundation, we’ve been able to offer programs and services that have amazing impact on hundreds of local people and we’re grateful for that.”
BIG OR SMALL, ONGOING DONATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Lorna Holmes Bailey admits she isn’t the biggest donor the Battle River Community Foundation has ever seen, but she maybe one of the most dedicated.
“I’ve been a supporter since the very beginning,” Lorna says. “I like the Foundation because it’s local and serves such a lovely, big community. I think donations to the Foundation are a very nice way to remember people and also a way to support really good, local causes.”
Lorna doesn’t usually designate her gifts to a specific fund within the Foundation, unless that request has been made by the family of someone whose memory she is honouring. She’d rather let the BRCF Board decide what causes are most pressing at any given time.
Lorna and her late husband Bill Holmes arrived in Camrose about 65 years ago, coming from Red Deer so Bill could take on the role of parts manager at the new GM dealership. Bill later started his own vending machine business, which he operated for about 30 years. The couple raised four children in Camrose – Dave, Lori, Julie and Mike – while also being active community volunteers with the Scouts, the Golf Club, the Curling Club, the United Church, the Winter Games, the Bailey Theatre and more.
Now, at the age of 86, Lorna is still happy to regularly attend Battle River Community Foundation events and support their fundraising. As an older person, she says she is “at the stage of life where many people I know are dying” and she is pleased to be able to remember them through contributions to the BRCF.
“It’s a well-managed organization run by good people whom I trust,” she explains. “It’s grown so much since the beginning and I am pleased to have played even a little part in that.”
|Battle River Community Foundation | firstname.lastname@example.org | 780.679.0449 | PO Box 1122, Camrose, AB T4V 4E7|