September 2023 - Special Anniversary Edition
Happy Autumn & Happy New (fiscal) Year!! This September, Home Hospice Association turned a whopping 9 years old! It's hard to believe that what started as a conversation between three people is now changing and improving the way so many people across Canada die.
Check out the story of how it all began. We hope you feel inspired by the amazing things we've accomplished over the years, and that continue to happen at HHA thanks to you, our HHA Community!
Keep reading to learn more about the people, projects, and events that we hold so dear to our hearts ❤️
Our anniversary theme:
It Takes a Village
Our theme this month, "It Takes a Village," encapsulates the very essence of our organization's philosophy. Over the last 9 years, we’ve witnessed the profound impact that can be achieved when communities come together, pooling their resources, talents, and heartfelt contributions. Our collective efforts have transformed countless lives, providing comfort and dignity to individuals and families facing the challenges of end-of-life care.
The idea that "It Takes a Village" extends beyond mere words for us; it embodies the collaborative spirit that permeates every facet of Home Hospice Association. From our dedicated volunteers and compassionate caregivers to our generous donors and supportive partners, each member of our extended family plays a pivotal role in our mission. Together, we have cultivated a community of care that has become an incredible resource for those navigating the often daunting journey of hospice and palliative care.
In honour of our 9th birthday, we invite you to explore with us how we can not only lead fulfilling lives but also navigate the end of life with grace, while helping others in their own journeys toward both a good life and a good death.
In This Month's HHAppenings...
A note from HHA Co-founder Jeanne O'Kell
In 2014 Tracey, Glen and myself were at my cottage, sitting on the dock, when Tracey shared her dream/vision of HHA with us. Since then that vision has opened its arms and enveloped so many people with its support and assistance.
HHA has not only worked to support those wanting to die wherever they call home, but has also offered such incredible educational opportunities.
This support, provided by amazing facilitators and educators has helped countless people understand that it is okay to die - and it's also such a gift to be able to accompany people on their journey.
I’m so proud of all the endless hours that our entire HHA family has put into this organization. The dream is a reality - one that will continue to help so many.
Anne Anderson & HHA's Moonlit Memory Walk
By walking with us and raising funds to benefit our programs and services, you’re helping to ensure that everyone has access to compassionate end-of-life care and support when the time comes.
Sign up to participate or donate to our campaign today!
Anne Anderson (nee Wotowic) is our Honourary Moonlit Memory Walk Chair. Amongst so many other things, Anne was a loving mother, a dedicated advocate of the rights of the dying, and a committed HHA volunteer. Her passion for HHA's mission and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles resulted in the very first Moonlit Memory Walk taking place in 2017.
In that first year, Anne reached out to businesses to donate, enlisted people to walk, and gathered food donations. When the public response to the Walk wasn’t what the team had hoped for and we were on the verge of giving up, Anne rallied us together, motivating us to carry on.
The First Annual Moonlit Memory Walk took place under the full October moon just as planned. Anne, weakened by cancer and treatment, still managed to get to the venue – the Toronto Yacht Club - if only for a short while. Anne died the following year, on October 21, 2018 - three days before the Second Annual Moonlit Memory. We honour Anne through this fundraiser and our determination to improve the state of hospice care in our communities.
Please visit the Moonlit Memory Walk page dedicated to Anne and her story. Together, let’s remember that she lived with fierce passion and love for her family, friends, and her work, as well as a deep desire to see positive changes in end-of-life care across Canada.
Meet our Village
Francine Kelly &
HHA's Internship Program
In September 2017 HHA began our work with students in the social justice field. Over the past 6 years, through our Social Justice Internship Program, we’ve worked with dozens of interns committed to helping us find solutions to the problematic reality that 84% of people in Canada don’t have equitable access to quality end-of-life care.
Francine was one of these dedicated interns.
Francine started at HHA as a placement student from Humber College in September 2020 and after her official placement ended, she continued to work with the Moonlit Memory Walk Team. Her drive to create positive change in social policies and her commitment to helping others have been a great benefit to HHA’s mission and vision. A self-identified lifelong learner, Francine has a Social Service Diploma, a BBA, an MBA, and an LLQP certificate, and she intends to pursue more studies in counseling psychology.
In addition to taking on the role of Team Lead for the Moonlit Memory Walk, Francine joined the HHA Board of Directors in 2022. We greatly value her thoughtful insight and commitment to contributing her time and expertise to our organization. Francine embodies the true spirit of volunteerism – “people doing ordinary things that make an extraordinary difference.”
Francine is also deeply committed to her spirituality, family, and good friends. She is married to Peter and they have a young daughter Haley, whom they adore. A quote that resonates strongly with her is "In a gentle way, you can shake the world" (Mahatma Gandhi).
It has been through the vision of some of our most dedicated and creative interns, like Francine, that we have been able to grow HHA throughout these past few years. Thank you, Francine – and all our interns – for being part of our Village!
Terri Viola-Wilson &
HHA's C.A.N.D.Y. Cafe
Terri is the Program Manager for our C.A.N.D.Y. Cafe (Creating Awareness and Normalizing Death for Youth) and Chapter Champion of our Hamilton-Halton Chapter.
She is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience, engaging with young people in the classroom, on sports teams, in choirs, and in social justice movements. She has led the development of our death education programming for youth and the adults in their lives, including our workshop and certificate program for “Talking with Kids about Dying, Death & Grief.
After retiring from teaching, Terri realized she also had a passion for painting. And during the early pandemic, she deepened her artistic pursuits with a new hobby: quilling (No, not quilting… quilling!) She also makes a mean buttercream, which her family can’t get enough of, and she decorates cakes with beautiful floral buttercream designs thanks to the lessons learned as a teenager from her mother.
If you want to train with Terri, check out the upcoming certificate program starting on October 19th or grab a spot at one of her Hamilton Public Library workshops for parents, guardians, caregivers and professionals working with young people.
We’re so grateful for the incredible insights and experience that Terri brings to our team!
Laura Silver &
HHA's Calgary Chapter
Working together with HHA’s National Leadership, our Community Chapters help people facing death in their communities and those who love them thanks to their local leadership and dedicated members.
We’re so pleased about the recent addition of our Calgary Chapter under the leadership of Chapter Champion, Laura Silver. Laura is an HHA-trained Death Doula, sits on our Board of Directors, and brings an impressive array of knowledge, skills and experience to our HHA family.
Laura spent close to fifteen years as a Senior Policy Advisor and Project Manager in the Ontario health care system, as a public servant and also as a Senior Project Manager at Cancer Care Ontario. After moving to Alberta in 2016, she led the creation of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program for newborns and spent three years improving patient access to specialist care in the province as the Senior Project Manager for eReferral. She now lives in Calgary with her husband, two of three children, and two dogs.
Laura's vision for the future is for every member of every community to have access to the resources, support and compassionate care that allows them to spend their final days in comfort and peace in their chosen space. She also wants to see a death doula in every community.
In the words of one client Laura supported: "Laura has proved to be such a bright light for all my family with her loving care for my parents and her gentle guidance for us all through the very challenging last phase of their long lives... Laura has brought us peace of mind knowing we’ve done our best for my parents, and even for ourselves and our own children someday. That’s a very powerful feeling when coping with grief and we are very grateful to her and her infinite kindness, grace and yes, her sense of humour too.”
If you’re passionate about wanting to provide equitable access to quality end-of-life care in the Calgary area and would like to join Laura and our Calgary Chapter, we’d love to hear from you! Email email@example.com and we’ll follow up with you.
Tuesdays with Morrie
Tuesdays with Morrie is a heartfelt memoir by Mitch Albom, recounting his weekly meetings with his former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who has ALS. The book explores the profound lessons on life, love, and mortality that Albom learns from his dying mentor during their Tuesday conversations. It's a poignant narrative that delves into the importance of living authentically and cherishing the moments that truly matter.
In the words of Laura Silver, written during her Death Doula training:
“One of the things that changed for me after reading this book was having more certainty that - probably sooner rather than later - I will be in this caregiver position not only as a death doula, but with my parents. I feel more prepared for this position now. I really had to sit and think about what it would be like to bathe my own mother, or take care of her most intimate needs… For me, the book highlights the importance of all the helpers - family and friends especially. In my own practice I am going to ensure that during the intake process and beyond I am casting a wide net to understand who the important people are in my clients’ lives. And as the book’s main areas of focus are legacy and giving, I am hoping that I can encourage my clients to view their lives through this lens as well - especially if they are struggling to find meaning.”
We wanted to highlight this book to commemorate HHA’s anniversary because it emphasizes the significance of compassionate and meaningful end-of-life care. Just as Mitch strives to provide comfort, support, and dignity to Morrie, HHA recognizes the incredibly important impact of quality end-of-life care and works tirelessly to empower communities to help people die well wherever they call home.
From our Blog:
The Gifts of Volunteering
"By now, it is surely common knowledge that our lives are busier and more stressful than ever before! The result of us filling our plates to the brim with commitments to our jobs while at the same time being caretakers of family members, both young and old, has been an increase in the number of people suffering from mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety."...