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Happy New Year and THANK YOU!

The best part of a new year is looking back and seeing your tracks from the year before. It’s like standing on a steep mountain path, looking back at all the switchbacks below you.

Come take a walk with us, as we re-tread some of those tracks and reflect on some very exciting moments for our Home Hospice Association Waterloo Region (Cambridge) Chapter and The Bello Project!

For those who don’t know, The Bello Project provides care for the pets of terminally ill people, in order to preserve the bond between pet and owner and avoid the pet having to be surrendered or re-homed until after the owner has died. Preserving this sacred bond is helpful to both the dying person and their pet, so they can travel the journey together and comfort each other along the way.

2017 was a year of hard work by our volunteers including; fun events, successful fundraisers, new community partners, a local office location and collaboration with some great organizations. Our volunteers are members of the community who have come forward after hearing about The Bello Project either from friends who are already volunteering, coworkers, social media or other online sources. They are people who recognize the great need to improve the quality of life for our dying friends, families and neighbours in our communities. They are people who also recognize that this quality of care needs to be offered to every person regardless of their heritage, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation and any other possible discriminating factor. Every person deserves to die in peace and at home, if that is their wish. For those who don’t have the support of family or friends, this requires members of the community to step up to the plate and be the village of care for that dying person.

Our volunteers either have an interest in volunteering as a Compassionate Caregiver in animal care (providing love and compassionate care to the animals of people with terminal illness) or with administrative, fundraising, events, grant writing, leadership and serving as a founding board member for the communities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo.

We extend extreme gratitude to the small businesses that came forward to offer in-kind or monetary donations!

As we look back at some fantastic fun events of this year, we are extremely grateful to the business owners, volunteers and patrons who made these events a success. The events of 2017 were as follows:

  • In March 2017, we met with Kathleen Beauvais of Healthy Waterloo Region Klusster online magazine. We are extremely grateful for her help in setting us up and gifting us with a blogging account to create online articles to share with businesses of the Waterloo Region.

  • In May 2017, we had a Bello Project booth at the KW PET EXPO to help raise awareness to the project in the tri-cities (Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo). This was a two day event that brought us face to face with thousands of community members, allowing us to share the news of the services offered by the Bello Project and Home Hospice Association.

  • The following weekend Karen Black, of Indigo Pet Photography, hosted a fun Pet Photography Session Fundraiser which was located at Monigrams Coffee Roasters Café in Galt, Cambridge. The event brought in 27 animals, including 25 dogs, 1 cat and 1 bunny, each unique and each bringing a smile to the faces of everyone involved. Thanks to Karen, we raised a little over $1000 dollars at this event.

  • In June, we were invited to speak about the Bello Project at the PROBUS club of Cambridge. Over 200 women attended and we had a wonderful time socializing and talking about our hopes to recruit volunteers, and specifically those who are retired and looking for opportunities to share their skill, time and compassion in their community.

  • In July, we attended a two day event in Niagara wine country at the Muddy Paws Wine Festival. This was a fantastic event which brought hundreds of people to our booth. We fundraised, played some fun games with our canine booth guests, and did some canine-friendly Muddy Paw painted Prints to spell the word “Muddy Paws” on some art paper! How fun!

  • In August, we had a blast at Pawlooza dog festival where we hosted another booth. Pawlooza sees over 25,000 people and around 6000 dogs, so it was a very busy beautiful sunny doggy day.

September brought us to Weinerfest in Hamilton; a day of fun for both dogs and their owners. We had a booth and participated in the events of the day.

  • In September, two volunteers hosted a coffee booth at the Hespeler outdoor farmers market, serving hot coffee by the cup to patrons, and also by the bag. This coffee is sold as a fundraiser with $6 of every bag going back to the Bello Project. Mr. David Wilding-Davies has graciously set up the fundraising account with his business Ashanti Café where coffee is grown in Africa and shipped to Ontario to be roasted in Thornbury, Ontario.

  • In October we worked with the volunteers of St. Peters Lutheran Church in Cambridge to host three events:

  • The Blessing of the Animals event: Patrons brought their dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits to the event to be blessed and have their photos taken. Pastor Janaki read a few words from the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and then blessed each animal presented, or a photo of a beloved pet they had lost. The event was very special and we are very grateful for everyone who attended.

The ‘Many Faces of Compassion’ Symposium: This event brought speakers, vendors and guests together with volunteers to enjoy coffee, snacks, lunch, and the sharing of talents from a handful of talented vendors selling health related products. The speakers shared important words about; caregiving and having no regrets, estate planning, the circle of care and village it takes to care for a dying person, identifying priority in self care when caregiving, and self hypnosis and guided imagery.

  • A Death Café: the first in Cambridge, was facilitated by Merri-Lee Agar. Death Café is a group discussion in a safe and non-judgmental space where people come together to discuss thoughts, fears, beliefs and questions about dying and death – while enjoying tea, coffee and cake!

  • In December, the KW Art of Fitness approached us and wanted to do a Christmas fundraiser, selling calendars for a small profit, of which proceeds would go to the Bello Project! Thank you so much to the Fitness club, and their coaches and to all those who

purchased calendars.

We would like to take this time to thank the businesses who supported us either by venue, professional time and services, or gift of product or donation:

We look back at this year, and cannot thank these businesses enough for helping us get off the ground and moving in our community!

We also want to thank all of the animal rescue organizations and animal health care professionals who have agreed to collaborate with us in the care and rehoming of animals when the time comes. We look forward to working with more rescues in 2018! We cannot do the work we do to give peace of mind to terminal people, ensuring them that a loving home will be found for their pets, when the time comes, with the help of the rescue organizations. We also are extremely grateful to the animal health professionals who have offered help in the means of veterinary care for the animals in our care.

We have been truly blessed as an organization this past year, and have met so many wonderful people along our journey. We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us and our community. Most importantly, we look forward to being able to deliver our services at no cost to more community members who need help for themselves or their friends or families due to terminal illness.

“From birth to death, human beings are hard-wired to connect to other human beings. Face-to-face contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Looser in-person bonds matter, too, combining with our close relationships to form a personal "village" around us, one that exerts unique effects. And not just any social networks will do: we need the real, face-to-face, in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends and communities together.”

Sincerely,Kim Hutten, RVT

Chapter Leader of The Bello Project of Cambridge

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