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Virtual Hike for Hospice exceeds fundraising goal

The Reasons performed for the Hike for Hospice celebration – from the Rea garage.

By Sharon Harrison
There were some very happy and relieved faces Saturday morning when Hospice Prince Edward announced this year’s Hike for Hospice fundraising total (as of 10am Saturday) had reached $32,116, smashing its goal of $25,000.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the annual signature event usually held at Picton’s Prince Edward Community Centre had to be shelved. Instead, the public was asked to hike in their own time, wherever they chose, register online and collect pledges.

The 9th annual Hike for Hospice – and the first ever virtual event – looked a little different this year. While it was missing the barbecue, a favourite element put on by the Rotary Club Picton, it did include an energetic live-streamed performance by Peter Rea and The Reasons who were set-up in the Rea’s garage and who completed eight sing- and dance-along numbers.

Melanie Dailey

Hosted by Melanie Dailey, Community Development Director, Saturday’s live-streaming event, highlighted the work Hospice does, the many volunteers who make it function, and the challenges the organization has faced during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hikers still received prizes this year with the winning team, The Cressy Striders, who raised almost 10 per cent of the proceeds. The individual fundraising star was Vanessa Lewington, and Mercedes Walsh was the winner of the social media draw, with “Gibson the Pug” deemed the most unique hiker.

Peter Matthewman, president, Hospice Prince Edward, thanked everyone for their generous support, especially in the unchartered COVID-19 times.

“The Hike is our major fundraising event of the year and over the last nine years, everyone’s efforts have raised more than $250,000 for Hospice,” he said.

He also noted that 100 per cent of the funds raised in Prince Edward County remain in the community, and directly benefit clients.

Peter Matthewman

Matthewman noted how Hospice’s operational costs have increased significantly as a result of the outbreak.

“The need for PPE and the cost of frequent and deep-cleaning processes has put an extra strain on our financials,” he said.

He also noted the ability to fundraise has changed.

“We are not able to gather for events such as this Hike or even the Shred-a-thon or barbecues,” he said. “It is important to remember that our services are offered at no charge to clients, residents and families, with only a portion (about 25 per cent) of its operations funded by the provincial government, and that’s why events like today’s virtual Hike are so critical for our financial well-being.”

He said each month Hospice needs to raise $21,000 to keep the facility operating, and it is only through the generous support of donors that makes it possible.

Picton councillors Kate MacNaughton and Phil St-Jean joined the live-stream briefly to say a few words about the importance of Hospice Prince Edward.

“I am so proud of the work that our community’s been doing for our not-for-profits like Hospice to keep the fabric of this community together,” said MacNaughton. “It’s very moving for me knowing people whose lives Hospice has touched, and to think of what they are grappling with at this particular time and when a family is in crisis because they need the services of Hospice.”

St-Jean provided congratulations on running a successful, yet challenging, fundraising event.

“I am so happy that you were able to pull off something that, while it wasn’t normal, it certainly was successful,” he said, noting many not-for-profits were struggling at this time.

St-Jean also noted that he has a personal connection to Hospice.

“My mother-in- law, a little over two years ago, was a guest at Hospice, and well over 10 years ago, prior to the Hospice facility being built, my father was also served in wonderful ways by all of our volunteers,” said St-Jean. “I very much appreciate everything that you do, all of the volunteers, the employees do for our community, and to see the community step-up. We live in an amazing community.”

Krista Hepburn participated in the live-streaming event sharing the story of her mother’s recent stay at Hospice Prince Edward.

“Mum spent her final days at Hospice and we were so blessed to be able to have my mum in Hospice,” said Hepburn. “She was 101-years-old and diagnosed with cancer at the end and she was in the hospital. She had been living in a retirement home and couldn’t look after herself. If hospice hadn’t been there, I don’t know what we would have done. Thankfully we didn’t have to make that decision because hospice was there.”

“Hospice is like living in your own home , the fridge was always full, it was 24/7 care. The compassion and care was amazing. She was there for almost three weeks and they made it easy for us and they made it easy for her, she was thankful she was looked after.”

Hospice Prince Edward is a non-profit charitable organization with a two-fold purpose.

“Firstly, to assist individuals, their families and caregivers facing life-limiting or terminal illnesses, and secondly, to help people of all ages cope with the death of a loved one and to re-discover life,” said Matthewman.

Hospice was started 30 years ago as a visiting program in the County. In 2013, a three-bed residential hospice was opened at 40 Downes Avenue in Picton.

“Since then, we have served over 300 clients and their families in that residence, plus we have cared for another 400 families in our community through the visiting program,” Matthewman said.

He described how COVID has had a major impact on all of the programs and services.

“The board and management of HPE have been meeting frequently to ensure they are providing the best compassionate care where possible under the circumstances and are planning for the future,” he said.

Hospice’s visiting program and support services that go into the community are being offered via telephone and video calls until it is safe to be together in person once more.

Hospice are also working with the Red Cross to make sure the volunteers are trained in the proper use of PPE, and are supplied with what they need, so when they do start visiting in future, they will be doing it in a safe manner for the families and for themselves.

“We have over 50 volunteers who support our Hospice programs,” said Matthewman. “Since the majority of them are on furlough at the moment, we are providing different types of quality care and service for our clients and families. Most of that is being done virtually, but we do have some of our volunteers who are picking up food and prescriptions and dropping them off for our families.”

Matthewman thanked Melanie Dailey for achieving the incredible job of pulling the Virtual Hike together, noting that Dailey has only been in the job since April 6.

“It’s an indication of the teamwork that goes on at Hospice,” he said.

“We miss being together with our magnificent volunteers and we look forward to being back with them, and we thank them for everything they are doing; they truly are the heart and soul of our organization.”

Dailey acknowledged the tremendous support from the community, saying everyone worked so hard to get the word out and make it happen.

“It is just such a phenomenal result and the result of just incredible teamwork and I want to thank every single hiker, every one of our sponsors and everyone in the community who supported us and every single person who sponsored a hiker.”

“We are extremely thankful for the community support and for everyone that hiked, we are extremely grateful,” said Dailey, who also acknowledged that all of their sponsors were on board for the virtual event.

Dailey also noted the Rotary Club of Picton, knowing Hospice couldn’t have the barbecue this year, came through with a very generous financial donation.

“We are just so grateful to them for that,” she said.

“It’s definitely teamwork makes the dream work around here,” Dailey said. “I am so impressed with the commitment and dedication of this Board, it’s unwavering, and Hospice is so lucky to have such a caring and engaged group at the helm.”

“This is our best year yet, and it’s all down to you,” she added.

Pledges are still being accepted up until July 10 if anyone would still like to hike (suggested routes can be found on the HPE website). For anyone wishing to donate to Hospice Prince Edward, visit or call 613-645-4040.

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