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Hospice gala funds bring comforts to loved ones in their final days

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Funds raised on a stormy winter evening will help families shed the burden of caregiving and instead, laugh and cry with loved ones during their final days.

More than 150 people supported silent and live auctions, dined and danced the evening away Saturday at the Wellington Community Centre in support of end-of-life care given at no charge to clients at the three-bed residential hospice at 40 Downes Ave., in Picton.

Emcee Val MacDonald, former interim executive director, accompanied by Executive Director Karen Moore and Hospice President and Chair Peter Matthewman, took a special moment in the evening to introduce Catharine Huff to acknowledge her recent “significant” donation – the largest, said MacDonald, since the construction phase five years ago achieved by former executive director Nancy Parks.

Matthewman said Huff’s donation has made an enormous difference to the ongoing success of Hospice Prince Edward.

“Catharine, your support for the Hospice has made a difference to a cause you care about. Thanks to your vision, many County families can spend time with loved ones in a peaceful, caring environment,” he said. “Families will be relieved of the burden of the caregiver and worrying about medication, laundry and other issues. Instead, they will be able to reminisce, have conversations and share special moments. They will be able to laugh and cry with their loved ones.

“Your generous support ensures our ability to provide the care and compassion for our neighbours and our community. It gives the Hospice a buffer to build on day-to-day operations and plan for long-term success,” he added.

The gala fundraiser, held in the Highline Hall, included cocktails and appetizers before dinner, prepared by local chef Michael Hoy. Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au vin were on the menu along with dinner wine and after-dinner port. The signature cocktail for the evening was a cosmopolitan dubbed “Love Potion No. 9.”

Musical entertainment began the evening with County pianist Sara Barrett Harris who set the scene with a beautiful selection of piano pieces as many perused the silent and art auction items on offer.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, emcee MacDonald asked guests to think back to, “When you were young and in love”, the theme for the evening.

“Some of you may still be young and in love,” said MacDonald, “and some of you, maybe like me, have to really remember back.”

MacDonald encouraged everyone to do some shopping for the perfect gift for their Valentine.

“If you can’t find something in that huge silent auction we have in the Rotary room, then you are not looking hard enough,” said MacDonald.

She acknowledged and thanked the volunteers, board of directors and organizing committee for the gala, along with those who use or have used the services of Hospice, the staff and all donors for their contributions.

A non-profit, non-denominational charitable organization, Hospice Prince Edward provides end-of-life care in a comfortable home-like setting. The three-bedroomed facility located on Downes Avenue in Picton caters to palliative care for individuals and families within Prince Edward County at no charge. The facility also provides bereavement support, community outreach, respite and education.

The Downes Avenue facility opened to the public in 2013, but Hospice has been serving the palliative care needs of Prince Edward County families for 28 years.

A large number of individuals and local businesses contributed auction items toward the cause. Dog training, a float plane tour and bottles of single malt scotch were among the selection of 100 silent auction items on offer.

A star of the auction was an impressive, full-size ‘star quilt’ made by the late Mary Pease, a passionate and prolific quilter, and donated by her husband Dick Pease.

“We are so blessed by the generosity of all the businesses and individuals who donated items this evening, especially the silent auction,” said MacDonald.

The live auction was conducted by Manson Slik and included Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators hockey tickets, optometrist services to the value of $1,000, wine tours, dinner with Michael Hoy and timeshares to Mexico and Cape Cod.

Art auction contributions in oil, acrylic, watercolour, encaustic and framed photographs, were supplied by various County artists including Aiden Haley, Karole Marois, Peter Mennacher, Celia Sage, Peggy deWitt and Melinda Chalmers.

With the evening in full swing, the dancing continued late into the very snowy night to the familiar sounds of popular rock and roll dance band Eddy and the Stingrays.

Fundraising tallies from the evening are yet to be completed.

For more information on the services provided by Hospice Prince Edward, visit hospiceprinceedward.ca

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