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Hikers help Hospice support journey of living with dying

heading-out-for-hikeIn support of families and friends experiencing the darkest days of their lives, more than 200 people took a hike in the rain Sunday.

Teams participating in the fifth annual Hike for Hospice have raised more than $150,000 to date for the community residential hospice home, bereavement support and palliative care programs all provided free of charge throughout Prince Edward County.

Hospice president Peter Matthewman

Hospice president Peter Matthewman

Hospice president Peter Matthewman thanked dedicated staff, volunteers and health care professionals as he welcomed supporters to the event, and thanked its organizer Judy Fraser, and all those who worked with her to make it unfold.

“This family-friendly event is a wonderful opportunity to gather and celebrate loved ones who are no longer with us; while also raising funds that are essential to the daily operations of our hospice,” he said. “The monies stay in our community for the support of your families, your neighbours and your friends.”

County participants join hikers from across Canada on this date to raise awareness and funds. Half the funds needed to operate the programs in the County come from this signature event, other fundraising endeavours and donations.

Judy Fraser, event organizer.

Judy Fraser, event organizer.

“Hospice is a non-profit, non-denominal charity organization with two focuses,” Matthewman explained. “The first is to assist individuals and their families and caregivers facing terminal illnesses. The second, and it’s just as important, is to help bereaved people of all ages, cope with the death of a loved one and re-discover their own life.”

Matthewman said just 30 per cent of Canadians have access to hospice care.

“We are very fortunate to have a service like this in our community. It truly is supporting the journey of living with dying.”

He also acknowledged the challenge of overcoming a tumultous year following the resignation of the organization’s first executive director which led to a community meeting hosted by volunteers who made clear they would continue to support hospice, but would not step into roles of personal support workers and nurses and demanded the Community Care Access Centre return 24-hour care.

“It has been a challenge, to be quite honest,” he said. “The marvellous volunteers who came forward to express concerns led the community meeting that galvanized the change process that has taken a year to evolve. And none of that could have happened without the support of the physicians and staff of the Prince Edward County Family Health Team and the many unsung community members who stepped forward to assist in helping with the change at hospice.”

He also praised the work of Birgit Langswich and Mary Camp, the only members of the original board left to facilitate the transition.

“Both of these women demonstrated the courage and strength and belief in hospice to guide us through a dark time and into the period of light and success and encouragement we are in today.”

HOSPICE PRINCE EDWARDHospice now has a full quorum of 11 members on the board of directors and a full staff in the residential hospice, and palliative outreach programs. Its new executive director is Laura Ricketts.

“We’re moving forward. It’s been a busy year and we’re making progress but we have a number of challenges ahead of us. Communication, respect and transparency are watch-words for our activities. Thank you to the volunteers who reminded us of the importance of these words.”

Click here for more on Hospice Prince Edward, its programs and services, and how to volunteer.

Volunteers Sandra Norval, Theresa Durning, Sandra Ferguson and Colleen Kelly with participant T-shirts.

Volunteers Sandra Norval, Theresa Durning, Sandra Ferguson and Colleen Kelly with participant T-shirts.

Tracy Powers warmed up the hikers

Tracy Powers warmed up the hikers – including new  executive director Laura Ricketts, at right, beside new board president Peter Matthewman.

Anne and Muriel, Hike for Hospice cheerleaders

Anne and Muriel, Hike for Hospice cheerleaders

Rotary Club members, including County Mayor Robert Quaiff, prepared and served a barbecue lunch for participants and volunteers. Rotary Club members, including County Mayor Robert Quaiff, prepared and served a barbecue lunch for participants and volunteers.

Rotary Club members, including County Mayor Robert Quaiff, prepared and served a barbecue lunch for participants and volunteers.

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  1. Theresa Durning says:

    Love the enthusiasm and “family” feeling of this event! We are so fortunate to have Hospice Prince Edward in our community!

  2. Bill Roberts says:

    Fun and worthy cause. Glad to have participated.

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