There is no one in any community that has not been touched in some way by the global COVID-19 pandemic. And it is the most vulnerable in society that are hardest hit. Charities can be counted among them.
While COVID-19 has been the most recent and notorious killer, other illnesses and diseases continue to impact members of our community. And for many of those nearing end of life, hospice is their final refuge.
But Hospice Huntsville is currently in a crisis for funding, according to Melissa Polischuk, the organization’s fund development and public relations coordinator.
Hospice Huntsville began serving the community in 1989, providing training for visiting volunteers who would provide respite for the dying, be it in hospital, at their homes, or in nursing homes. It allowed patients to be comfortable in the final days of their life.
In January 2012, Hospice Huntsville opened Algonquin Grace, a five-bed residential hospice that provides 24-hour professional nursing and personal support work, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Hospice also provides grief support programs for adults, teens, and children.
All of it is offered free of charge to the community.
But while Hospice services and programs are free for those who need them, it takes significant funds to operate them.
Hospice Huntsville must raise 60 per cent of their annual operating budget, Polischuk said. Each year they need to bring in $658,000 from donors and fundraising events. This money is needed to purchase nursing supplies, groceries and personal items for the patients, as well as covering ongoing operating costs of the building.
Just as they are starting into a new fiscal year, Polischuk said the fundraising situation is dire.
On March 12, they launched the purple boot campaign which is part of the larger, six-week-long Hike for Hospice campaign and which places purple boots in stores around town for people to drop their spare change or a few bills into. And then just days later COVID-19 shut everything down.
“Normally we have 40 purple boots throughout the community that people drop their change into,” said Polischuk. “Now with so many businesses that supported us now closed we are moving to a virtual campaign.”
The popular Purple Tea Party, which had been scheduled for the end of March, and the 11th annual Hike for Hospice, which always runs the first Sunday in May, have both been postponed.
Polischuk said the hike is a nationwide Hospice campaign recognizing Hospice Palliative Care Week (May 4-10, 2020). “It is a big time to raise awareness and funds for Hospice.”
These three Hike for Hospice fundraisers combined help to raise over $80,000 of the organization’s operating funds, said Polischuk. It’s a big chunk of money that will be missed unless they can generate the funds online.
Other Hospice Huntsville fundraising events, including Swim for Hospice and Create a Swim, are still tentatively scheduled for later this year.
Polischuk encourages people to continue to check Huntsville Hospice’s social media pages for updates.
“We are an important residential hospice for our community,” she said. “It is extremely important to have this service available to all our community members.”
It may take a little more time than dumping your spare change into a purple boot sitting beside a cash register, but every little bit of online support is both needed and appreciated.
Purple boot donations have moved online through Canada Helps—you can support Hospice here.
Learn more about Hospice Huntsville and other ways to give at hospicehuntsville.com.
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