White Rock Hospice Society reaches $2.1m goal

The society’s new supportive care centre will open this fall.

After a final wish from one of its volunteers, the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society has completed its funding campaign for its new supportive care centre.

Margaret “Maggie” Rodgers, who passed away last year, left the hospice society a “sizable” donation, which helped the WRSSHS reach its $2.1 million goal for the project.

Many of the campaign donations are in the form of pledges that the organization expects to be paid out over the next few years.

The new building will house the society’s administrative offices, volunteer training program and grief support programs and services. It will be located within walking distance from a new residential care facility – created in partnership with Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, Fraser Health and the province – which will house 200 beds, including a 15-bed hospice residence.

The $40-million development, which is expected to be completed in 2018, is located at the southwest corner of 17 Avenue and 156 Street.

Construction of the new WRSSHS building (15435 16A Ave.) is two to three weeks behind schedule due to weather and is now expected to be complete late-September or early-October.

Beth Kish, executive director of the WRSSHS, said the new location will allow the organization to expand its programs and services to meet the need of the South Surrey and White Rock communities.

The society supports people through the grieving process, whether it be from terminal illness or sudden death.

Lately, WRSSHS has experienced an increased demand in its offerings, a fact that Kish contributes to the increasing population but also the improved awareness of mental health.

“All of these discussions are getting more prevalent, more in the forefront and easier to talk about,” she told Peace Arch News last week.

“It’s sort of, sadly, a growing industry, but we’re happy to help people and we’re so thrilled to be able to offer services at no charge. There’s enough stress at those times that another financial stress is something we don’t have to do, and that’s due to the generosity of the community and the support we receive.”

WRSSHS is funded almost entirely by community donations and money raised through the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society Thrift Store.

One demand of support that’s increasing at a greater rate than others is, “sadly,” children support, Kish said.

“For instance, our last camp was held just a month ago and we had 10 children under the age of 10 who lost a parent. Some people are dying from cancer younger – some parents – but also parents are realizing the importance of supporting children through the grief process rather than assuming they will handle it.”

Kish agreed that working in the supportive care industry can be a taxing job, however, “it’s very rewarding.”

“We see people coming from very dark places then being able to cope and manage their lives and get back as productive, healthy people. I always say it’s hard to manage the impact we have. But we do know that if people don’t receive support, often they can end up back in the health-care system.”

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