Friendships can be formed in different ways.
Once again, community members are being graciously invited to match the donation of local businessman and philanthropist Bob Williams in support of Jocelyn House Hospice.
This time around, Williams has pledged $20,000 to match donations made to the hospice’s Friends for Life campaign in an effort to raise $40,000 to help ensure the continued work done by Western Canada’s first free-standing hospice, which is located on Egerton Road near the Seine River in St. Vital.
Jackie Stephen, Jocelyn House’s executive director, described last year’s campaign — which aimed to raise $35,000 to celebrate the hospice’s 35th anniversary, with Williams again pledging to donate half — as "a roaring success." She hopes community members will once again be inspired to take on the challenge presented by Williams.
"Last year, for our anniversary campaign, we were fortunate enough that Bob stepped for us," Stephen said, noting Williams has not only pledged $20,000 for this year, but also for 2022. "After it was done, he was so impressed by the community’s and our efforts that he threw down another new challenge. Bob loves challenges, and we thought this would be a fun way to do it."
Like so many non-profit organizations last year, Jocelyn House was forced to rethink and rework its fundraising pursuits in light of the pandemic. Its previous fundraisers have included the annual Band Together concert, which showcased an ensemble lineup of local musical talent, and an annual luncheon that was also based on the friends for life theme.
"People love the fact their dollars are being used directly to help the residents of Jocelyn House, so anything we do at this challenging time is great," Stephen said. "It’s important to note that we’ve been here 36 years now as a grassroots organization, providing compassionate care for the terminally ill."
"We provide a beautiful setting here, where people can come to Jocelyn House and make it their home. There’s a feeling of community here at Jocelyn House, and our residents can enjoy home-cooking, personal care, and a sense of belonging."
Jacqueline Bouvier, the hospice’s manager of volunteer, spiritual care and development, said staying at the hospice creates "cherished moments of joy and memories for both the residents staying here, and their loved ones."
Jocelyn House opened Oct. 20, 1985, in honour of Jocelyn Hutton — a young woman who died of cancer at the age of 17. Her parents donated their family home to the community in memory of their daughter, whose wish was to die at home supported by family, friends, and her community.
The hospice’s mission is to carry on Hutton’s dream and add life to the final days of its terminally ill residents, and their loved ones, by providing care and comfort in a home-like setting.
Williams said Jocelyn House plays an invaluable role in the community, and he hopes his donation challenge will inspire others to contribute anything they can afford.
"By challenging people to donate in this way, it gives the person who might think their $10 isn’t going that far to double their money. Before you know it, $10 becomes $20, and $20 becomes $200."
While he hasn’t personally had a loved one spend time at the hospice, Williams said he’s been to Jocelyn House on several occasions, and "the care people receive there is quite remarkable."
"Considering it’s somewhere where people end their life’s journey, it’s a happy place, and families know their loved ones are being well looked after and cared for," he said.
"It fills a great need in our community, and the people there work hard to make it a special place to live."
Go online at www.jocelynhouse.ca for more information, including how to donate.
The deadline for donations is Oct. 10, which is during Thanksgiving weekend.
Simon Fuller is the reporter/photographer for The Lance. Canstar’s senior reporter, he joined the team in June 2009 to write for The Sou’wester, which was then the new paper in the Canstar family.