In June of 2010, my life changed in a way that I had not been able to fathom until then; my mother died, and suddenly I was left with what felt like an enormous hole in my life where she had been. I had never not had her in my life before, and I remember thinking, “Who am I without her here?” “Am I still me?” Those deep, searching questions of meaning led me on a journey and on a completely different path – from working in the spa industry into end of life and bereavement care.
Since then, through my education and volunteering with local hospice agencies, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet teachers, mentors, colleagues and kindred spirits – many of which are in my own community of the Niagara Region. Having been part of this community for the past 28 years, and perhaps more importantly, having been part of end of life care here for the past 6 years, I see what is being done well, what can be done better and the gaps there are to fill. When I first learned about Home Hospice Association (HHA) in 2015, what I immediately loved was that it was a national registered charity that was created to, through their 7 signature programs, fill the gaps of care that currently exist in hospice palliative care, because there are gaps in every community in Canada.
Based on that and my experiences with my own private end of life and bereavement clients, I saw the need and knew I had to start an HHA Chapter in Niagara. This past winter, I contemplated what that might look like, who I might approach about being involved in my vision and I created a list. My list of colleagues, friends and kindred spirits were professionals in palliative care medicine, cemetery services, home care services, funeral services, death doulas, social work and bereavement. My idea was that I would meet with each person one on one to discuss what our Chapter might look like and how they might want to be involved and thought that spring would be the perfect time to launch. I met with 11 people over the period of a few weeks and as it turned out, all had interest in being involved somehow. On April 3rd, all were invited to our “Join the Conversation” meeting to learn more about HHA and what establishing a Chapter looks like. By the end of that meeting, 9 people decided they would like to become members of our Founding Board of Directors and on April 17th we held our first Board Retreat where we created the mission and vision for our chapter.
“Our Vision is to provide quality in life, dignity in death and support in bereavement for the whole person, family and community by understanding their needs and supporting their choices.”
“As a local chapter of Home Hospice Association, we are committed to supporting the unique needs of those in the Niagara Region. We provide education; seek collaborative relationships to deliver services by offering integrative choices; and pilot projects which complement our existing hospice palliative care framework.”
Our chapter will hold its first major fundraising event, the first annual Moonlit Memory Walk on Wednesday October 24th at Heartland Forest. The Moonlit Memory Walk is an HHA signature fundraising event that takes place under the harvest moon every October to raise awareness and to allow the opportunity for people to participate in a meaningful evening of shared love and loss. I feel extremely blessed to be part of the change happening in our community and across our country, and I look so forward to all that the next few years of chapter development will bring.
For more information regarding the Moonlit Memory Walk please visit www.moonlitmemorywalk.org and for more information on ways to get involved with Home Hospice Association please visit www.homehospiceassociation.com/copy-of-get-involved.