Community support keeps hospice running

Greater Trail Hospice Society appealed to the community for donations, and the community has stepped up.

A local palliative support organization is used to operating on a shoestring budget, but a few months ago a financial crunch had the 25-year service at risk of closing its doors forever.

Over the holiday season, the Greater Trail Hospice Society appealed to the community for ongoing financial support because the group would run out of money by February.

“We didn’t beat around the bush this time,” said Brenda Hooper, the society’s chair. “We told the community we were in a crisis situation and didn’t have adequate funds to continue providing services in 2014.”

People listened, and after St. Andrew’s United Church Women in Rossland kicked off the crisis campaign with a $2,000 donation, a further $15,000 was raised by mid-January.

Those funds, combined with a $19,000 stipend the Society receives from Interior Health Authority (IHA), will be used to maintain two part-time staff; continue community education and volunteer training; and to support almost 30 bedside volunteers.

“We were desperate and the community did come through in our hour of need,” said Barbara Gibson, hospice treasurer.  “But the money has only allowed us to catch our breath and we are asking for ongoing monthly support.”

The next fundraiser the Society is planning is the annual Hospice Swimathon, scheduled from noon until 8 p.m., March 6 at the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

That day, two lanes will be designated for the swimmers, and outside those times, regular lap lanes are available to anyone who would like to participate.

The event is touted a challenge to get involved, have fun and support a great group of volunteers providing a valuable service.

All proceeds raised from the swimathon will be dedicated to hospice operating costs, and Gibson is hoping to exceed the $4,500 the event brought in last year.

“I hope to double what we raised last year,” explained Gibson. “Combined with our current bank account that could keep us going for nine months.”

Hospice has been through many changes over the years, including when IHA cut a social worker position from the program in 2010. Now operating as a society, the group has risen from one 12-hour position to employing two people at 32 hours a week combined.

Program director Camille Roberts works in the hospital, connecting with nurses, social workers and patients who are battling a terminal illness while volunteer coordinator Peter Stoochnoff schedules bedside respite for these individuals at KBRH, long-term care facilities or in their homes.

“I think the people, especially those who have used the service, really value it,” said Gibson, who became passionate about hospice after going through a similar process with her brother years ago.“But to keep this valuable service alive in Trail we really need monthly support.

To learn more about hospice, to get involved or to donate, check out www.trailhospice.org Hospice can be reached directly at 364-6204 or via email at info@trailhospice.org

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