“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” — Robert Frost

Back in March, when the world began to realize life was going to be different for a while, very few believed that we would be heading into a fall like this one.

Home Hospice North Lanark is an organization that delivers support via trained volunteer visitors to those with a life-limiting diagnosis and their family, in their home. And we could no longer go into their homes. The organization rose to the challenge and found different ways to make sure that life could go on—that those who needed help got it; that those who were already facing challenges in their life would not be forgotten.

The shift was made from in-person visits to telephone and videoconference visits. Our Volunteer Coordinator made sure that our clients still felt supported and cared for. Our visiting volunteers have stayed committed and continued to participate in their monthly educational and supportive meetings through Zoom.

Our Board has also migrated to Zoom meetings keeping up with ways to revise the budget and develop strategies for coping with this new reality. Planning sessions with community partners also continued thanks to technology.

Our Bereavement Programs are particularly busy in part due to the increase in lives lost to COVID-19 in our community. We all realize it is particularly hard to deal with grief without all of the customs and support to which are accustomed. Thanks to our trained bereavement team, with extra support from the Champlain LHIN, we’ve been able to share information and provide grief companioning, helping clients deal with trauma and find ways to cope. There are a number of links to support information on our website found on the Resources page.

And, as is typical with people who are community-minded, we looked outside of our own organization to see where else we could help. Board members Toni Surko and Jan Watson organized board members, committee members and friends, who contributed cash so they could arrange to send food for front line workers in Carleton Place and Almonte. The food was prepared by small businesses in both towns thereby supporting them, too. We have some funds left in trust in case a second wave hits us and our front line workers need this support again. Last week, some of those funds were used to purchase Tim Horton’s Smile Cookies to drop off to the staff at Carleton Place Terrace, Almonte Country Haven, Almonte General Hospital/Fairview Manor and the Paramedics of Lanark County.

“Although it has in many ways been a challenging time for our organization, being able to witness the generosity of spirit and the determination to find ways to continue to fulfill our mandate that our Board and staff have displayed has been nothing short of inspiring.” — Nancy Deschenes, Chair

As a charity that is normally 100% funded through donations and targeted fundraising we’ve had to get creative in that area as well. Although we did receive some government help to tide us over, we are all keenly aware that this vital part of our organization needs to be addressed as well. Our tree sale was already almost complete when the virus hit, so we redesigned our pickup plan to comply with the new rules. We’ve organized a different kind of Hike this year. People can sign up online at hhnl.ca/hike and hike anywhere and anytime in the month of October. Hikers will be wearing a distinctive red bracelet with the words “Home Hospice North Lanark. I Care” on them. Look for the bracelet on others when you’re walking in October and be proud to be part of this compassionate community.

We’ve also enjoyed the proceeds of some mini fundraising efforts. Phyllis Moore, a Board Member, sold her Banana Gumdrop Bread, other donated baking and handcrafted wooden items at the Almonte Farmer’s Market. Wendy Rampton, a Committee Member, gave away hand-sewn face masks to friends and family asking recipients to donate to HHNL and continues to sell them, donating half of her profit to various charities including HHNL. These two mini-fundraisers raised over $2,000.

So, the bottom line is this: Home Hospice North Lanark is here for you, as always, and we are grateful to know that our community is here to support our work.