Heartland Hospice Moose Jaw held its second annual Gala on May 25 at the Grant Hall Hotel, with a Black and White theme, silent auction, a raffle — and some enormous donor gifts.
“Hospice care is something people generally don’t think about until someone they care about requires it. Without dedicated hospice beds, the terminally ill must either have their family care for them in their final end-of-life days, or be relocated to the hospital,” Angela Sereda, chair of the Heartland Hospice board and the evening’s MC, said in her opening remarks.
Heartland Hospice was founded in 2014 and has been working ever since to increase the number of dedicated hospice beds at Pioneer Lodge on Albert St. They have built one bed so far, and have received SHA approval to move ahead with an expansion that will result in the following improvements:
- Three dedicated hospice-palliative bedrooms;
- A family resource centre with reading materials and activities for children;
- A sacred space for the use of the whole facility;
- A dedicated family entrance separate from the long-term care section;
- A serenity garden, upon which much work has already been completed, and;
- Essential palliative care training for hospice staff.
“We are also extremely honoured to have members of the Bradford family with us this evening as our very special guests," Sereda continued, "to share some of the inspirations their family carries from the life of their precious Maren.”
The Bradford family’s daughter Maren died last year of mitochondrial disease at only six years old. Maren’s love of pandas, and the green colour of mitochondrial disease awareness, were the inspiration for the gala’s themes, including a dessert table stocked with her favourite snacks.
Maren benefited from hospice care during the final stages of her life, and her mother, Cathy Bradford, spoke to advocate for increased hospice care resources in Moose Jaw.
“People don’t want to think about their loved ones getting sick, let alone passing away,” Bradford said in her emotional address. “Our story is unique to us, but … we have learned so much through it. We believe Maren’s legacy will be the lessons and empathy that came from her journey here. Of course, it was too short. And lots of things are unfair. And I would give anything to have her back.
“We found our team of people,” Bradford said, as she related the efforts the family put in to making Maren’s life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. “Creating that community is what [Heartland Hospice] is doing — a safe space where families feel supported through their bereavement, with compassion and thoughtful consideration.”
The Black and White fundraising gala had a packed schedule, including remarks from Lynn MacKenzie, Clinical Manager at Pioneer Lodge; Karen Abrey, executive director of continuing care for Integrated Rural Health, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA); the Hon. Tim McLeod, the MLA for Moose Jaw North; and Graham Fast, executive director of Community and Foundation Relations at the SHA.
Snowbirds pilot Captain Richard MacDougall, a friend of the Bradford family, sung a special medley in honour of Maren Bradford, accompanied by Justin MacRae on guitar.
Live jazz music during program breaks was provided by the Carter Powley Trio.
Local artist and businessperson Yvette Moore unveiled an original painting of a white lily that she donated to Heartland Hospice. The original, and prints made from it, will be presented to major donors to the capital campaign.
Major donor announcements at the gala included:
- Over $71,654 from back-to-back Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaigns, organized by local Tim Hortons franchise owners Don and Kathy Howe and their children Aurora and Grayson;
- $50,000 from W.J. Jones & Son Funeral Home;
- $75,000 from Robert and Margaret Rigetti;
- $150,000 from Hetherington Livestock;
- $150,000 from the Jameson family;
- More than $50,000 in anonymous donations, some from out of province.
Major donors received naming rights to various sections of the planned renovations at Pioneer Lodge.
Board member Amanda Dowling closed the evening by saying Heartland Hospice is optimistic that renovations will be fully completed in early 2024 — the rest of this year will be devoted to raising the final $300,000 necessary for that goal.
More information on Heartland Hospice, including how to donate to their capital campaign, is at www.heartlandhospicemj.ca.