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Oceanside Hospice grows their Memory Tree

Residents welcome to take some time to remember a loved one
Norm Biddlecombe from the Seaside Cruizers gives a Christmas gift of $1

For those facing a life limiting illness and for their families and caregivers, this time of year can be a huge challenge.  That is why the staff and volunteers at the Oceanside Hospice Society want to get the word out that they offer a safe and nurturing environment to those struggling with such losses.

Oceanside Hospice Society Executive Director Lynn Wood admits that during the festive season there is a huge emphasis upon celebration and happy memories and often the expectations surrounding the holidays are a daunting prospect for those members of our community.

She said throughout December they invite the public to visit Valhalla, their base of hospice operations at 210 Crescent Road West in Qualicum Beach.

Thanks to the magic of designer Maggie Smith and many sponsors and volunteers, the 1911 heritage home will be festively decorated to provide a welcoming and magical haven for visitors.

The Rotary Christmas House Tour will include Valhalla again this year and Wood said the tour is a great opportunity for the public to see what they do because many people have misconceptions about the hospice home in Qualicum Beach.

“People think we have beds at our location … we don’t.  They aren’t aware of all of the services we provide,” Wood said.

Oceanside Hospice Society has been supporting the community since 1990 by serving individuals and their families who are facing end of life issues and bereavement from Nanoose Bay to Bowser.


With the help of over 90 volunteers they offer support programs, from equipment loan delivery, to providing respite for exhausted caregivers.

Wood said Valhalla is the home base of their operation where they train staff who provide self care for people in palliative care including healing touch and other therapies.

“The building was willed to us and we want the public to know what we do here.”

She said every Christmas they have a Memory Tree to give people the opportunity to visit and remember a loved one who has passed. She said they used to have the tree at Wembley Mall, but last year they decided to have it at Valhalla and Sunrise Rotary included them on their Christmas house tour, which was an overwhelming success.

This year Valhalla is one of eight homes being featured in this season’s Rotary Christmas house tour, which is being held Sat., Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Staff and volunteers of Oceanside Hospice will be offering warm mulled spice beverages at Valhalla and the opportunity to visit and remember a loved one passed through their Memory Tree.

The mail this week will include an envelope for every household from Hospice. The mailing outlines all of the events they have scheduled. A Memory Tree decoration encourages those who wish to remember a loved one to write on the angel or butterfly and bring or mail it back to Valhalla. Each decoration on the tree represents someone special.

“By bringing the community to our door, we are eager to inform residents about our services, which are offered free of charge. We also hope to encourage new memberships in our society as well as to recruit volunteers to assist with our fund development efforts. We hope to be the charity of choice for the communities of Oceanside this year,” said Wood.

In addition to the Memory Tree they will host a Gathering to Honour a Life on Sun., Dec. 11 at Parksville Community Centre for a short ritual including inspirational readings, music and a candle lighting ceremony in honour of those still in our hearts.

The Craig Bay Choristers invite the public to hear a festive choral offering on Dec. 15. Proceeds from their annual event will benefit the Hospice.

The Sunrise Rotary Christmas in Qualicum Home Tour and lunch includes a self-guided tour of local homes all decorated for Christmas. Lunch will be served at the Thalassa Restaurant at the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club. Tickets are $40 for tour and lunch or $20 for just the tour. Proceeds support the programs of the Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach Sunrise.

Tickets are available at the Arbutus Emporium, Mulberry Bush Bookstore, Raintree Emporium, Thalassa Restaurant, The Shoe Inn, and Close To You in Parksville.  The tour is Sat., Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.