“As exciting as it was back in 1992, it is also exciting when reflecting on these last 20 years and the services Dundas County Hospice now offers,” said Jan Clapp, one of the founding members of the hospice and currently the palliative care course facilitator.
On May 24th, at the J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre in Williamsburg, Dundas County Hospice celebrated their 20th anniversary while honouring their volunteers.
Dundas County Hospice, founded in 1992, “recognizes the uniqueness of individuals and their families, and how life-threatening illness affects them. Compassionate care is directed at improving their lives physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
According to board chair Bob Pitruniak, “20 plus years ago somebody came up with the idea for this. They worked hard and they created the framework for the organization that exists today for everybody in Dundas County.”
“I think we do an excellent job of running the hospice day to day. I’m humbled by what the founders had to do to go from zero.”
“We have been blessed for 20 years to be able to attract excellent caring staff,” he continued, listing the many ways people have generously volunteered over the years by helping out with visiting, respite care, office work, fundraising and so on.
“Without all of these people, we couldn’t have done it,” he said.
Following a very moving story, Clapp reminded guests that a person with the life-threatening illness may not remember what you did or said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
Caregivers at the hospice, she said, ask themselves one important question: “What do I need to know about you as a person to give you the best care possible?”
Each year the Dundas County Hospice selects a volunteer of the year and this year’s volunteer of the year is Nelly Leightizer.
According to Bea Van Gilst, director of client services for Dundas County Hospice, Leightizer is a recently retired board member who was active on the board for over 10 years. She acted as treasurer for one year and was board chair for two.
“Members of the board said it’s been a great pleasure to work alongside Nelly,” said Van Gilst.
“She’s very supportive. She reflects the values, passion and dedication that are qualities of all our board members.”
Dr. Chuck Adamson, medical advisor to the Dundas County Hospice, spoke about the many services the hospice provides, all of which are free. Dr. Adamson has a practice in South Mountain.
Guy Lauzon, MP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, took the podium following Adamson.
Lauzon began by sharing his personal experience with hospice-like care, similar to the kind of caring service that Dundas County Hospice provides. Lauzon’s first wife battled breast cancer and passed on July 2, 1988.
“I want to acknowledge all the volunteers and I want to thank you for your dedicated service,” he said.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds also said a few words, commenting on the special kind of people it takes to volunteer in hospice care: “I’m certainly glad that those that have that gift, use it. It sounds like you’ve had a good active group dedicated to the needs of your community.”
Eric Duncan, mayor for North Dundas was also on hand for the event and said, “I honestly can’t think of a volunteer service like this that is more compassionate and caring.”
Pointing to the Dundas County Hospice flyer, he said, “it’s amazing the diversity of what’s offered here. Dundas County Hospice is to be commended.”
In addition to the direct support they offer those experiencing life-threatening illnesses, the hospice also offers services in community education, training courses, library, equipment loans, day hospice, caregiver support, and more.
Duncan finished by pointing out that the type of services provided by the hospice are not “frontline”, but they are “so appreciated.”
Van Gilst concluded things, saying “we want to thank all of our volunteers again and all of our supporters.”
Also recognized for their “generous support” was the J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre. “This is a wonderful facility for us,” she said.
Those attending the Dundas County Hospice’s celebration on Thursday night were serenaded by the piano stylings of Winchester District Memorial Hospital CEO Cholly Boland.
The Dundas County Hospice offers free services. The organization is funded through donations and fundraising efforts.
For more information, to volunteer or to access the services of the Dundas County Hospice, phone 613-535-2215 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.