Toronto advisors told Chatham-Kent Hospice personnel they would be lucky to raise $3.5 million in Chatham-Kent.
Those same advisors said starting a hospice from scratch isn’t done in Ontario. It takes years.
And the driving forces behind the Chatham-Kent Hospice proved them wrong. The campaign wrapped up with a bang on Saturday, with the Ursuline Sisters donating $500,000 a day after the McGeachy Charitable Foundation handed the hospice $100,000. The campaign blew past its $5-million target by more than three quarters of a million dollars, raising $5,765,050.
Jennifer Wilson, chair of the hospice board, was ecstatic Saturday at the touchdown event held at Galaxy Cinemas in Chatham. She also told those in attendance that rather than continue to raise money at this traditionally very charitable time of the year to help with operating costs, the hospice would stop temporarily.
“Because the Chatham-Kent Hospice is part of the community, we are shutting down our fundraising for now,” she said. “I urge people to give to the United Way, Outreach for Hunger, the YMCA, or the Salvation Army.”
Wilson said community support for the hospice has been off the charts.
“Our donors have come out to support us in a huge and unexpected way,” she said. “People are giving, and giving and giving. This just blew us away.”
Sister Theresa Campeau, speaking on behalf of the Ursuline Sisters, said the group has long been involved in end-of-life care. One of their members, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, passed away recently, with fellow sisters at her side for support.
“Many of us have had the privilege of journeying with people at the end of their lives,” she said. “Dying, we believe, is part of living. Every person deserves the right to die with care, dignity and with comfort, as much as possible.”
John Case, lead fundraiser for the hospice, commended the sisters on partnering with the hospice.
“These people are specialists in end-of-life care. They do this all the time.”
He said with the fundraising campaign over, the hospice will move ahead as planned.
“In early spring, we’re going to put a shovel in the ground, and in late fall, the plan is to open the doors,” he said.