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Happiness & Gratitude: Couple asks wedding guests to give to Hospice

Happiness & Gratitude: Couple asks wedding guests to give to Hospice
Published on Thursday,12 December, 2019



Three years ago, youth director Betty Steenbeeker and drywall installer Arnold Winter were strangers to one 
another. Both belonging to Christian Reform churches, they had heard each other’s name spoken by mutual church friends, but their paths had never crossed. They were leading separate lives, making a living, being good parents, and coming to grips with the fact that their partners in life had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

 

Before they would meet, the two would take a similar but separate journey down the road of caring for and eventually saying good-bye to the person they had hoped to spend the rest of their lives with. Their paths would take them to Stedman Community Hospice, where they would find the care they needed for their dying loved one -- and for  themselves, the peace of mind to let go.

 

Little did they know that soon after the saddest chapter of their lives had been written, an invitation from a friend to fundraise for Stedman Community Hospice would bring them together, and a new story of love and hope would unfold.

 

On October 4th, 2019 Betty and Arnold were wed, in front of their five children and a large gathering of family and friends at Hope Christian Reformed Church,Brantford. The wedding invitation stated that instead of wedding presents, the couple would prefer that guests make donations to Stedman Community Hospice.

 

By mid-November, more than $12,350 dollars had been donated to Stedman Community Hospice as a result.

 

"We’re at that stage in our lives where we don’t need or want gifts, and for both of us, Stedman Community Hospice was just an incredible part of our journey.”

 

Betty and Arnold met in May of 2018 when their mutual friend, Nancy Hartholt, invited them to be part of her Hike for Hospice team. Nancy’s husband, Walt, passed away at the Hospice and she was putting together a team to raise money in his memory. In addition to meeting at a Hospice fundraiser, the couple, in their early 50s, have a deeply personal connection to the Hospice; in July of 2017, Betty’s husband Tony spent his final five days there. Several months later, Arnold’s wife Johanna came to the Hospice and passed away five weeks later.

 

"It was an incredible experience,” says Arnold.


"First of all, the surprise of finding out, the existence of in-home Hospice care to help Johanna with her pain and  medication, that was incredible. And then to find out it was free was amazing, because that is the last thing you want to be dealing with at the time. And then to come to the Hospice itself and not have to worry about Johanna’s health or looking after her physical needs, was unbelievable.”

 

Betty shares a similar connection to the Hospice.

 

"A couple of times, the staff had brought Tony out to the garden in his bed. I remember sitting there thinking how can I be feeling so much peace, sitting here in this beautiful garden when my husband is so ill,” says Betty.

 

"I could not believe that in the chaos of life, and knowing that my husband wasn’t coming home again, how peace-filled I felt at the Hospice.”

 

"Being there allowed me to just let go of all those tasks, of caring for him, changing his clothing, trying to keep up with hygiene – it allowed me to just be his wife,” she shared.

 

About three weeks after meeting at Hike for Hospice, Betty and Arnold went out to dinner, and soon began spending more and more time together. Their journeys of losing their spouse after long battles with cancer, and talking about it with each other was a big part of the couple’s bonding process.

 

"Even though everyone’s story is unique, we could really understand what the other was going through. It was wonderful to have someone to share your grief with, someone you could be completely open and honest with,” says Betty.

 

"Some things that you wouldn’t necessarily share with other people, because they wouldn’t fully understand, with each other we had that safe place of being able to share right to the core.”

 

Nancy Hartholt, who has known both Betty and Arnold individually for three decades, and was good friends with Arnold’s deceased wife, Johanna, says it couldn’t happen to nicer people.


"In the midst of sadness and grief, they found joy in each other. I see it as such a blessing. And I can’t think of a better way for the two of them to honour their spouses than by requesting donations to the Hospice. It is such a worthy and needed place in Brantford, and I am thankful for their desire to see donations go there.”


Olga Consorti, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation, the official fundraising organization for Stedman Community Hospice, noted that designating gifts in honour of a special occasion in lieu of presents, is a wonderful way to support the Hospice. It’s also the perfect present for the person who has everything!


In addition to weddings, people often make In Honour Gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, teacher gifts, Mother’s and Father’s Days, and Christmas. Often donors and employers who, instead of sending gifts to family, friends and employees at Christmastime, donate to the Hospice, and in their Christmas card, they include a note card from the Foundation that lets the person know a donation was made in their name.

 

For more information on how you can raise funds for the Hospice through a personal fundraiser, or to order In Honour cards, please contact Nancy Billard, the Foundation’s Director of Development & Communications at 519-751-7096, ext 2476.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


St. Joe's Lifecare Foundation Leader to Retire next May
Published on Friday, 1 November, 2019

St. Joe's Lifecare Foundation leader to retire next May

Hamilton Tiger Cats Meet and Greet St. Joe's Caregivers
Published on Thursday,24 October, 2019

Brantford Expositor e-edition, October 24, 2019
OSKIE WEE WEE! Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Mike Jones and defensive back Rico Murray visit Olga Consorti, CEO of St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, volunteer Debbie Clayton, and residents Audrey Cichacky and Peter Barber. Care for the Caregivers Day recognizes staff and volunteers at St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre and Stedman Community Hospice. 

Hike for Hospice Raises $338,000
Published on Wednesday, 5 June, 2019

Celebration of love' raises $338,000 for hospice

 

 

 

A massive "celebration of love” on Sunday raised just over $338,000 for the Stedman Community Hospice.

Perfect walking weather drew as many as 2,000 participants to the 15th annual Hike for Hospice.

"We have lots of angels watching out for us, from above and on the ground,” said Olga Consorti, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation, as a sea of participants wearing bright yellow hike T-shirts began to fill the parking lot at the St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre on one of the season’s first warm sunny days.

Many hikers were there for a loved one who spent their final days at the hospice, which provides end-of-life care to people and support for their families free of charge.

Led by the Brantford Pipes and Drums, walkers streamed onto the streets surrounding the hospice for a one-kilometre stroll.

The names of everyone who has died at the hospice since it opened in 2004 was listed on boards outside the hike registration tent and printed on the commemorative hike T-shirts.

More than 20 members of "Team Cindy” designed their own shirts with their connection to Cindy Haalstra printed on the back: wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend.

Haalstra was a pediatric nurse who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and died at Stedman Hospice on Dec. 21, 2017, after spending three weeks in care. She was 54.

"The staff was just incredible,” an emotional Jeff Haalstra, Cindy’s husband, said before Sunday’s walk. "We laughed and cried together.

"A group of women came in to sing Christmas carols. I will always have that memory of listening to Cindy singing along to Silent Night.”

Haalstra was the top fundraiser at the hike, bringing in $4,425, which won him a $4,000 travel gift certificate, which he promptly donated back to the hospice in honour of its staff and volunteers.

Hospices across Canada host a hike to raise awareness and funding in support of hospice care as part of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association initiative. The local event is one of the top hikes in Canada for the number of participants and money raised.

Eleven-year-old Ella Whiting and her cousin Makenzie Robb, 12, used Sharpies to write "Grandma Shirley” on the backs of their hike T-shirts.

Shirley Robb was 69 when she died at the hospice about 18 months ago.

"It is the most amazing experience for someone at the end of their journey,” said Robb’s daughter, Jackie Whiting. "The care the family receives is just amazing. It allowed dad to take on the role of husband and not caregiver in her final days.”

Whiting said volunteers provided comfort in many ways, including hot soup and fresh muffins to visiting family members.

Consorti said planning the Hike for Hospice is a "year-long love affair,” with the huge turnout "a credit to the amazing community we live in and how they value hospice care.” More than 100 volunteers help plan and run the hike.

"There’s something really special about the event,” said Consorti. "There is a beautiful energy.”

Janet Matteson said the care her stepfather, Andy Spain, received at Stedman Hospice in 2016 inspired her to become a personal support worker. She is now working at Emmanuel House, a hospice in Hamilton.

"I was blown away by how wonderful the care was,” she said on Sunday. "I wanted to pass that on to someone else.”

This year’s hike family was Jeremy and Jessica Stewart and their daughter, Vienna. Their daughter, Charlotte, who was born with a neurological degenerative disorder, celebrated her fifth birthday at the hospice, just two days before she died in September 2017. Soon after, they welcomed Lincoln "Charlie” to the family.

Walter Gretzky was the hike’s honorary chair.

"Thank you everybody for being here and caring,” he told the crowd.

The second place prize of a travel certificate for $1,000 went to Cathy Chenier from "Ruth’s Troops” who raised $4,118.

Anderson Whitehead won the top youth prize of a $250 gift card by raising an impressive $5,800.

On Sunday morning, nearly 60 cyclists took part in Bike for Hospice, collectively raising more than $11,000.


Top Youth Fundraiser 2019

Top Youth Fundraiser 2019
Published on Wednesday, 5 June, 2019

Anderson's feel-good moment Continues

Expositor Staff
Published on: June 4, 2019 | Last Updated: June 4, 2019 7:30 AM EDT
Anderson Whitehead, 11, raised $5,800 for the Stedman Community Hospice in the annual Hike for Hospice. With him are Walter Gretzky, honorary chair of the Hike, and Olga Consorti, President & CEO of St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation.
 
Brantford's Anderson Whitehead, 11, won the prize for top youth fundraiser in last month's Hike for Hospice, raising $5,800 for Stedman Community Hospice.

Anderson's mother, Laura McKay, who died last Nov. 7 of cancer, received care at the Hospice. Her final wish was to help her son meet his idol, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
 
The wish came true in February in an encounter that is in the running in the NHL Fan Choice Awards for Best Feel-Good Moment of the 2018-19 season.
 
Anderson has already started raising money for next year's hike, set to take place on May 3, 2020. He would like to at least double this year's $5,800 total.
 
Donations can be made in memory of his mother by visiting https://www.sjlc.ca/donations/donate and completing the Tribute Information section. Alternatively, donations can be made by phone at 519-751-7096, ext. 2475, or by sending a cheque to St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation at 99 Wayne Gretzky Pkwy, Brantford N3S 6T6. 
 
To vote for the video of Anderson's meeting with Price for Best Feel-Good Moment in the NHL Fan Choice Awards, visit https://www.nhl.com/fans/nhl-fan-choic-awards.
 
See also article from the Montreal Canadiens: From a Hug with Price to Fundraising with Mr. Gretzky.     

https://www.nhl.com/canadiens/news/anderson-from-a-hug-with-carey-price-to-fundraising-with-walter-gretzky/c-307536416

Ticats to Join Hike for Hospice on May 5

Ticats to Join Hike for Hospice on May 5
Published on Wednesday,10 April, 2019

Members of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will join the 15th annual  Hike for Hospice on May 5. The CFL players visited Stedman Community Hospice patients and families last year.

CHARLOTTE LIGHT PHOTOGRaPHYJeremy and Jessica Stewart with daughters, Charlotte and Vienna. Charlotte died at the Stedman Community Hospice on Sept. 14, 2017. The Stewarts are the hike family for this year’s Hike for Hospice.

"We are very excited to be welcoming players from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this year,” said Olga Consorti, president and CEO of the St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, which raises funds for the hospice.

Consorti said the event is a "celebration of life and a day of remembering those we have loved and lost. "The energy is absolutely infectious, which makes it a very special day for all our participants.”

The hospice provides care for terminally ill people and support for their families. The programs and services are offered free thanks to fundraising efforts. Residents of Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk can all access hospice care. The Stewarts are this year’s hike family. Jeremy and Jessica Stewart are advocates for the hospice. Their daughter, Charlotte, was born with a neurological degenerative disorder and was not expected to survive past the age of eight months. After years of being cared for at home by her parents, Charlotte was admitted to the hospice in the summer of 2017. On Sept. 14, 2017, two days after joining Charlotte for her fifth birthday celebration in the hospice family room, family and friends said their final goodbyes. The Stewarts were able to access the free children's bereavement program to help their daughter, Vienna, cope with the loss of her sister. Soon after the passing of Charlotte, the Stewarts welcomed Lincoln to the family.

Registration for the hike is $20, which includes a commemorative T-Shirt, listing the names of every patient cared for at the Hospice. It also includes lunch and family-friendly games and activities.

Hikers are encouraged to register online at www.stedmanhike.ca or in the foundation office at 99 Wayne Gretzky Pkwy.

Early bird check-in is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4 is on the grounds of St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre at 99 Wayne Gretzky Pkwy.

Hike Day registration begins at 11 a.m. on May 5. Festivities kick off at 1 p.m.

Sharp Bus Lines is offering a free shuttle service from the Lynden Park Mall from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more details, to register or donate, go to www.stedmanhike.ca or call the foundation at 519-751-7096, ext. 2475.

Donations can also be made payable to foundation and mailed to 99 Wayne Gretzky Pkwy., Brantford, N3S 6T6.

$200,000 slated for Hospice

$200,000 slated for Hospice
Published on Thursday,12 July, 2018

St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre is in line to get a $200,000 in one-time funding from the city for the operation of the Stedman Community Hospice.

Council’s operations and administration committee unanimously backed a resolution this week to grant the money after a pitch was made by Olga Consorti, president of St. Joseph’s Lifecare Foundation.

Council will consider final approval on July 24.

The funding will help the hospice – founded in 2004, and one of 25 such facilities in Ontario – provide programs and services from the moment of diagnosis of a life-limiting malady, through their illness and grief journey.

"While the esthetics of our beautiful facility provide home-like comforts, the unparalleled hospice care is what sets us apart,” Consorti told councillors.

"We pride ourselves on being trailblazers in the province, being the fifth residential hospice to open in Ontario and a whole host of firsts, including the launch of our community outreach and our horticultural programs, among others.”

The hospice’s 10-bed Hankinson House provides round-the-clock care for anyone with three months or less left to live.

It provides a community outreach program that sees a team of professionals visit homes of patients in Brantford and Brant County. Outreach also is provided to Six Nations and Haldimand and Norfolk counties.

Councillors were told that the hospice has handled more than 450,000 in-home visits and consultations, resulting in thousands of emergency room diversions, better access to care and millions of dollars in savings to the health-care system.

Since the Ontario government funds only a portion of the hospice’s programs and services, the foundation carries on a fundraising campaign to meet the facility’s $3-million-plus annual budget.

Brant County council earlier this year donated $100,000.

"I’m delighted that council unanimously supported this funding,” said Coun. John Utley.

"That’s a strong recognition of the work that hospices do in communities for those who area in the last stages of life. The Stedman Community Hospice is a worldclass facility and a jewel in our community.” 

Dying Ontario Boy's October Christmas Inspires Indian Film 'Uma

Dying Ontario Boy's October Christmas Inspires Indian Film 'Uma"
Published on Friday, 6 July, 2018

In October 2015, people in the small southwestern Ontario town of St. George rallied together to throw an elaborate Christmas parade for a seven-year-old with an inoperable brain tumour who wanted to celebrate his favourite holiday one last time.

But although Evan Leversage tragically died on Dec. 6 of that year, just weeks before Christmas, his story did not end there. In 2017, his mother received a surprising Facebook message from award-winning Indian filmmaker Srijit Mukherji.

"In that message, he wanted to explain to me how Evan in St. George had inspired him to write the movie ‘Uma,’” Nicole Wellwood told CTV News Channel on Thursday. "I was actually quite shocked. You know, what happened here in October 2015 was absolutely incredible. But to inspire a movie to be done all the way in India is pretty remarkable.”

"It was absolutely fantastic,” Wellwood recalled. "There’s nothing that I wouldn’t want more than to have Evan here, but on the same note, to have his story and legacy live on in the way it has is absolutely incredible.”

Wellwood and Mukherji have since become friends, and although Wellwood says seeing the film was "absolutely emotional,” she added that the filmmaker’s "talent behind the camera is amazing.”

Mukherji also travelled all the way from India to St. George to present a special screening of the film Thursday night.

"To be able to share this film and bring it back to St. George to a community that rallied together to give Evan such happiness is absolutely going to be a night I can’t forget,” Wellwood said.

"Uma” will be screened in several other Canadian cities in the coming weeks as well, including a July 21 showing in Calgary and one on July 28 in Mississauga, Ont.

With files from The Canadian Press

Hike for Hospice

Hike for Hospice
Published on Thursday,19 April, 2018

Hospice Christmas campaign seeks to raise $200,000

Hospice Christmas campaign seeks to raise $200,000
Published on Tuesday, 5 December, 2017

Before the Stewart family began a search for end-of-life care for five-year-old Charlotte, they knew little about Stedman Community Hospice.

"I had no clue a place like this existed," said Charlotte's aunt Cara Overduin. "I would drive by it and assumed it was an elderly care home. I was shocked there is this kind of gift in our community."

The hospice quickly became a haven for the large family, including Charlotte's parents, Jessica and Jeremy Stewart, who had been consumed with caring for their daughter, who was born with a neurological degenerative disorder so rare that Overduin said just two people in the world currently have it.

Not expected to live past the age of eight months, Charlotte's condition caused her to choke, aspirate and suffer from dystonia. She required a feeding tube and spent much of her time in hospital.

As Charlotte reached the final weeks of her life, hospital staff talked to the family about hospice care.

"It was a scary sounding thing," said Overduin.

"But we came (to the hospice) for a visit to check it out. It was breathtaking. It felt so homey. We were invited in for soup and coffee and we chatted on the couch."

The hospice first provided Charlotte, called Charlie by her family, with community outreach - sending doctors, nurses and social workers to support her in her St. George home.

"She went downhill really fast," said Overduin. "We called the hospice in desperation. They were full but they made space in the family room and got her in a day later.

"There was such a feeling of relief. The nursing staff was phenomenal. They were constantly offering support. They cared for her so tenderly. You could tell that they loved her.

"We had never seen (Charlotte) so comfortable or calm. We could hold her without the struggle."

Charlotte died on Sept.14, two days after celebrating her fifth birthday, complete with a big party in the hospice family room.

So grateful is the family for the little girl's care that Overduin has become a spokesperson for the hospice. And, blue-eyed Charlotte, pictured wearing a wreath of baby's breath on her head, is the first cover girl for Insight, a new booklet the hospice has mailed to donors for its Christmas fundraising campaign.

This year's campaign goal is $200,000.

In 2014, thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, the 10-room Hankinson House opened to replace the original hospice. It costs about $3 million a year to operate the hospice, which gets limited government funding for nursing costs. Half the money, said Olga Consorti, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, is raised through donations from the community.

Consorti said hospice staff has handled more than 350,000 in-home visits and consultations, resulting in thousands of emergency room diversions, better access to care and millions of dollars in savings to the health-care system.

The hospice is one of only 25 such residential facilities in Ontario and its programs are open to people in Brantford, Brant and Six Nations. It offers a community outreach program, a day wellness program, a residential program for those diagnosed with three months or less to live, and a grief and bereavement counselling.

Consorti said Stedman is one of the few hospices that care for children.

There is no cost to families for hospice services.

"I can't think of one situation we can't help someone, either here at the hospice or at home," said Consorti.

Donations to the hospice's Christmas campaign can be made online at www.sjlc.ca, by calling 519-751-7096, ext. 2475, or by mail at St. Joseph's Lifecare Foundation, 99 Wayne Gretzky Pkwy, N3S 6T6, with cheques payable to the foundation.

Those who join the hospice's Monthly Giving Club, with donations spread over 12 months, will have their contribution matched by Kent Dixon, president of ROI Group. Those who are already club members can increase their monthly gift and that also will be matched.

"Words can never express how grateful we are," said Overduin. "I don't think people realize how much donations can mean."

Stories of Love and Life at Stedman Community Hospice are posted on YouTube.

mruby@postmedia.com

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