When I left the Hospice Office this morning I saw a volunteer in the garden of Ty Watson House, cleaning the patio deck. It had become windy and trees had dropped their leaves everywhere. The man worked hard and seemed determined to get the job done as quickly as possible, so residents could sit outside with their visitors. I had just spent some time in the living room where a hospice volunteer had served coffee to one resident playing cards with her lady friends. Some family members were sitting on the sofa talking softly. In the kitchen I had noticed a pot on the stove producing a mouth watering aroma. Another volunteer was preparing lunch while chatting with a lady in a wheelchair who just had finished a late breakfast. The house seemed like a content bee hive, activities everywhere, accompanied by laughter from the group of women playing cards in the living room. It was a good day at Ty Watson House, in spite of a “black cloud” hanging over the house, it was a good day.
I had come to the house to deliver some of the ATV raffle money, money that has become even so much more important in the past month. The bad news is still occupying the media. The BC Government had silently frozen gaming grants promised to many charities. But they got slapped on the hands they had put into non profit pockets by many angry letters and bad press. Now the promised money is going to be paid. But those non profit organizations which have to apply for direct access grants each year are still waiting for an answer and will not receive the usual amounts and many will receive nothing. The big hole in the budget of the BC Government makes the Government desperate enough to leave even bigger holes in the budgets of charities all over the province.
When I immigrated to Canada almost four years ago I could not believe the amount of fundraising people here have to do to be able to provide many services, which to my experience in Europe are the responsibility of the Government. On top of already so many national fundraisers, small non profit organisation in local communities have to raise their own funds to serve their community with basic needs; such as proper hospital equipment, special needs in senior care such as a suitable bathtub, food provision and housing for the social weak and the poor, cultural needs, kids sports, education etc. Among all those charity and non profit organizations the Hospice Society also applies for gaming grants every year. With the innovative bed program, the Hospice Society saves the Government a lot of money by providing an alternative for palliative care in hospital beds. Believe it or not Ty Watson House doesn’t receive any money from the government in return. Residents in Ty Watson House pay a small per diem fee. These fees do not cover the operating costs of the house. Therefore the Hospice Society needs fundraisers like the ATV Raffle, has to ask for donations and apply for gaming grants. Instead of having to pay a lot for wages we are blessed with so many volunteers donating their time in the community and in Ty Watson House. Here we are providing what the Government should provide. People work together and don’t get paid for doing a great job. Instead of receiving funds from the Government we receive money from generous tax payers, and while doing so we create a Hospice House model for other Hospice Societies in the province saving the BC Government even more money in the future.
After I had dropped of the ATV raffle money at the office, I walked to my car thinking that this all must work pretty well for the Government. As long as communities understand their needs and find the people to get things done, the Government can look away and keep these costs out of their budgets. I noticed the volunteer who cleaned the patio floor was now rearranging the garden furniture, through the open window of the living room I could hear the ladies laugh, they were obviously enjoying their card game. I decided to ignore the “black cloud” hanging over the house. Instead of focussing on what we might not get, I wanted to focus on what we already have. Today was a good day in Ty Watson House, we have dedicated volunteers and the people in this great community we live in are giving us tremendous support. Yes we will keep asking the Government for funding but until they finally recognize how essential this care we give is, we will continue with your help to do what we have to do to make sure the Alberni Valley receives the best end of life care possible.
For more information on end of life care, Ty Watson House or how to become a Hospice volunteer please contact the Hospice Office at 250.723.4478 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to all of you for your continued support.