With hopes of creating a heightened awareness for the Oceanside Hospice Society, Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, recognized the organization in the B.C. legislature last week.
“Death affects us all. It doesn’t discriminate who it takes and it doesn’t discriminate who it leaves behind. At Oceanside Hospice Society, patients, caregivers and families who are grappling with the final stages of life, bereavement or caregiving can find comfort, compassion and support,” Stilwell said in her speech. “The non-profit was incorporated in 1990 but volunteers established the organization informally many years before that. Today it remains volunteer driven with a wonderful and dedicated board.”
Stilwell said 500 people have been helped by the hospice in the last six months, ranging in age from 23 to 96.
“It’s also supported by the community with the donations remaining in the area to provide services, free of charge, from Nanoose Bay to Bowser,” she said. “Volunteers will even sit at the bedside of people in long-term care facilities so they’re not alone in their last hours.”
Stilwell said she’s a proud advocate for “such an important organization that’s touched so many people dealing with a difficult time.”
Julie Chambers, Oceanside Hospice Society executive director, said Stilwell’s speech did bring in some more donations, but also created a new awareness for the hospice.
“We do get a little bit of government funding here but most of our donations come from the community and from different sponsors, so Michelle had offered to do that piece for us and it created much more awareness for us,” Chambers said.
Chambers said the hospice looks for donations all year round, as that’s how they sustain their organization, supports and programs.
“Our programs and services here at Oceanside Hospice are complimentary and supported by the generous donations that we received directly from this community,” Chambers said.
Programs offered at the hospice include, grief counselling, support groups, medical equipment delivery, respite care, palliative vigils and more.
Hospice programs continue to run all through the holiday season, and are typically a little busier, Chambers said.
“Obviously this time of year is harder for some folks than it is for others and we are here to support our clients not only through the holiday season but also throughout the year,” Chambers said. “We try to do lots at the house to encourage people to come in. We have a Memory Tree where people can come and relax in our living room area and put an angel on the tree as a tribute and a memory of their loved ones.”
Chambers said she’s grateful for Stilwell’s recent and continued support in bringing awareness to the Oceanside Hospice Society.