Christine Whelan FEO, August 31, 2023, VOL. 4 ISSUE 27
A Courtyard Contribution
The Ridgeway Lions Club shocked Hospice Niagara with a commitment to raising $225,000 over a period of five years for a new courtyard.
Hospice Niagara is currently developing a new palliative care facility next to the new Gilmore Lodge, also in development, both on the site of the former Town and Country Mall on Garrison Road in Fort Erie.
The first amount of $25,000, raised through running bingos, has already been raised and a cheque has been handed over. Now only $200,000 to go.
I met with a few of the key players in this project to find out the details. Ron Brunner, Ridgeway Lions Club member and chair of the Lions fundraising committee, Brian Hodge, Ridgeway Lions Club and fundraising committee member and Pamela Mackie, Capital Campaign Manager, Hospice Niagara sat in Ron’s living room with me to share the details.
The journey took off with Hospice Niagara attending one of the Ridgeway Lions Club’s bi-monthly meetings to do a presentation.
Ron began, “We graciously accepted them. We wanted to hear what they had to say. We invited them to dinner first. They put on a good presentation. It was an eye-opener.”
When Pamela was asked about the presentation, she explained, “We talked about the services that were coming to Fort Erie. We were very lucky to get approval for 20 hospice beds in the Niagara Region. These are going to be regional beds. However, with our hospital closing at some point, we’ll be losing those palliative beds, so now we’ll be having 10 end-of-life hospice beds in Fort Erie.”
Pamela added that Welland is also building a 10-bed hospice.
“Along with the beds, we’re also going to have two family suites which will host families who need to stay overnight. Some of the families do want to stay overnight, especially when it gets close to the end.”
She added about the suites, “Even for staff, as we experienced the need with this past Christmas storm. We know we get some incremental weather down here in Fort Erie. And we are manning our operations 24/7.”
Pamela talked about the life celebrations that still take place at Hospice. “We have so many celebrations — Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries. So, the new facility is going to accommodate all of that. In that planning, we made sure we would have children’s playrooms.
“We have courtyards. This is what the Lions Club is naming.”
Pamela commented that it’s going to be incredible to have the Ridgeway Lions Club name associated with the beautiful courtyard. “We’re on a space which the Niagara Region has donated to us. We are a stand-alone building. It’s not a huge building so this courtyard is really going to be where families and patients will spend a lot of time together, in this outdoor space.
Pamela explained that they have learned from the days of the pandemic when there were so many challenges and restrictions for families to see loved ones. Moving forward they are making adjustments. “Every suite is going to have a patio so everybody will be able to go outside.”
Mackie talked about the Lions Club respectfully, “They are going to have to do a lot of work to raise this money. We’re so, so grateful for that. And we know it’s not going to be easy. For them to come forward to demonstrate that this is what they’re going to do for us and for their community and for the Niagara Region, it’s been so wonderful for us to receive this.”
A Committee Was Formed
They came up with a list of options. When looking at the list, none of the options caught the committee’s attention quite like the courtyard. They were drawn to creating an outdoor space for visiting.
And so, the club took it under their belt to take it on.
Norm and Brian talked about how, in this way, everyone can contribute through this alliance, “through coming to the dinners, coming to the pancake breakfasts and supporting the 25 events the club has going on — through contributing their five dollars, ten dollars, the mass of people will move our little mountain up to finish. That’s how we really have the whole community behind us.”
There are two events planned so far.
One fundraiser that is planned is Ontario’s Southcoast Dream Drive, which is a rally that will take place down Highway #3 from Fort Erie to St. Thomas September 16-17, the Lions will be selling t-shirts and hats.
“There’ll be a couple thousand cars coming through. The cars will come into the Old Fort to our Ridgeway Lions photo booth. They get their cars’ picture taken, with the caption ‘Welcome to the Old Fort. Southcoast Dream Drive’.
The Ridgeway Lions Club’s 10th annual golf tournament is on the same weekend, September 16 at the Fort Erie Golf Club. This year, the tournament will be held on the second Saturday instead of the usual second Sunday. Proceeds will go towards the Hospice project.
The club shuts down for the summer but will begin planning more events in the fall.
About Hospice Niagara’s Expansion
Pamela says it was really a team effort. “Carol Nagy, who is our executive director, and our board of directors did all the letters and all the applications to the ministry.
“Our communities and our municipalities have been very much behind us. We’ve gotten financial support from most of the municipalities in the Niagara Region.”
“The Niagara Health System (NHS) is a very good support for us. They were one of the catalysts, speaking to Carol Nagy, getting this going.”
Pamela shared a peek at the philosophies of Niagara Hospice. “We see that, when a baby comes into the world, there’s a big celebration and everybody’s happy. Carol is so focused, as is all of the staff, on when it’s the end of our lives, it should be celebrated also. As much grief as there is, it should also be joyful.” There is no charge for this invaluable service. Hospice Niagara does all the fundraising.
For monetary donations, Hospice Niagara will provide a tax receipt for anything over $20.
To get involved, contact Ron Brunner by emailing him at email@example.com or Brian Hodge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo provided by Ron Brunner