For the first year of operation, all was great… the AV Hospice Society continued to have a home-base in the basement from which it could operate Ty Watson House and all its other out-reach programs; the second floor became a warm, common living area for the residents and their families (with tiny offices squeezed in here and there); and on the top floor, four of the five bedrooms became cozy, intimate rooms for people in end-of-life care. The tiny fifth bedroom became a necessary nursing station for palliative care nurses, LPN’s and home care workers. The attic became a nursing office. Every square inch of the building was used.
Ty Watson House was soon bursting at the seams as capacity, in terms of staffing and programming, grew exponentially. By the second year, the AV Hospice Society knew that, eventually, it needed to relocate its offices, allowing Ty Watson House to expand for the comfort of its residents and families. The search for a visible, more accessible community-based space for the parent AV Hospice Society was born. It would be five years before that quest could be realized.
This summer, the Alberni Valley Hospice Society proudly opened its new offices in the center of the up-town core of Port Alberni. With most of the growing pains subsiding, much has been accomplished with this move. Very spacious, the new area has a large meeting room for Grief and Bereavement Groups, Board Meetings, monthly volunteer Care and Share sessions, and for program training sessions. It offers a welcoming front-desk area where each of the front-desk staff members has her own work station.
The Executive Director, Lenore Benedict, has an office to which she can actually close the door and meet with more than one other person at a time. The Program Co-ordinator, Theresa Maxmenko, has office space that she does not have to share - she does not have to pack up and leave her office so a critical Reiki or Healing Touch session can be conducted. Reiki volunteers now have their own quiet, well-equipped room all to themselves.
The grief councillors, Ruth McDonough and Diane McNeil, have an ample, welcoming space where they can plan their programs and meet with families and members of the public. Les Bonnell, our chaplain, has a home-base.
Volunteers who operate programs have their own work-station and storage area – the Reflections Program and the Caring Connections Programs being two such programs.
The lending library, housing vital books on the dying process and its related topics, is open to the public.
“In a couple of hours, we have more people drop into these offices than we did in a week at Ty Watson House,” says Lenore. “With this move, our profile will be greater, our services broader and our multitude of programs can expand as they should.
Ty Watson House is also a huge beneficiary of this move. We have more storage space and greater accessibility for equipment and resources needed by our residents. We now have some private areas at the House where families can gather in comfort. My old office has become a private computer work- station for residents and their families. No one has to be pushed out of a space prematurely. It is so much more effective and efficient for all concerned.
It has been a big move, one that we could not have made without the hard work of the staff, board members and volunteers; nor without the tremendous support from our many generous community sponsors – all of whose names adorn the main wall of our new meeting room!”
Any questions about the Hospice Society and its work in the community, please call 250-723-4478 or drop by the new offices at 3088 Third Avenue. Just look for the cheerfully bright sunflower mural at the entrance.