Posted on Nov 3, 2015
Member's Statement: Light Up Your Life, Tri-Community Palliative Hospice Care Society
On November 3, 2015, I spoke in the Legislature about the good work that the Light Up Your Life Tri-Community Palliative Hospice Care Society is doing in our communities.
The Light Up Your Life Society is a charitable society established in 1992 in Stony Plain. These dedicated and compassionate volunteers work tirelessly to support palliative, hospice, and continuing care in the Tri-Community area of Alberta (Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Parkland County).
The society promotes awareness of palliative care, purchases enhanced equipment and special services, assists those in need, helps families and caregivers of terminally ill patients, and raises the funds for these purposes.
Palliative care looks after the special needs of a person facing the end of life by providing comfort and support to the person, family and friends. Palliative care aims to ease pain and suffering and to sustain quality of life and dignity during a person’s final days. People sometimes think that palliative care is only for the elderly but the truth is that it may be needed by individuals of any age facing a terminal illness, including children.
In 2014, the Light Up Your Life Society provided close to $60,000 to WestView Health Centre in Stony Plain for equipment, palliative volunteer training and hospice care kits. This donation helped to furnish four private rooms and a communal family centre. This raised the number of hospice beds in the Edmonton area to 68.
Staff at the WestView Health Centre is given palliative education through the Edmonton Zone Palliative Program, which teaches them pain and symptom relief skills. Volunteers from the Light Up Your Life Society (some of whom are retired nurses) also visit patients in the hospice to lend support in any way they can.
In the words of the Chair of the Society, Linda McCreath: “Everybody has the right to die as peacefully and as pain free as possible, and with as much support as possible. It’s a very important service … because it’s a time in their lives when they’re very fragile, when they need special support.”
Linda McCreath added that, in the past, terminally ill patients would be placed in an acute care bed at the WestView Health Centre and staff has always worked hard to make the patient comfortable at the end of their life. “There’s no denying that the nurses do everything they can to help that person,” she explained, adding that this hospice area will be different as it will be designed to feel less like a hospital and more like a home.
The largest annual Light Up Your Life Fundraising Campaign began on Sunday November 1st and continues through to December 31st. Each ten dollar donation lights a clear bulb on one of five community symbols of hope throughout the Tri-Community area: The Murals of Stony Plain, the Doves of Hope in Spruce Grove, the Wave of Hope in Seba Beach, the Circle of Hope in Parkland County, and the Tree of Hope in Wabamun. These symbols of hope glow in memory of our loved ones.
These lights glow in memory of someone dear to us, and the names of those remembered are published in local newspapers after the Christmas season.
In the words of Sharon Cornelius, who has been involved with the Light Up Your Life campaign for more than 20 years: “Light means hope and honour. When you’re donating towards the purchase of a light bulb, you’re honouring a life that has gone on. It is part of the healing process for people when they’ve lost someone. When someone has (passed away), you can’t give them anything anymore. To me, this is giving to them at Christmas time.”
Other fundraising efforts include luncheons and an annual Silent Auction for the WestView Health Centre.
Last year, volunteers and advocates of the Light Up Your Life campaign raised $107,784. This effort pushed the society’s total fundraising dollars past the $1 million mark, an incredible feat for any organization. On average each year 97% of all funds raised are used to directly support the people in need in our own communities.
On October 6 the Light Up Your Life - Tri-Community Palliative Hospice Care Society was presented with a 2015 Minister’s Seniors Service Award at a reception at Government House in Edmonton. As you know the Minister’s Seniors Service Award recognizes Albertans who through volunteerism have made a meaningful difference in the lives of seniors. The award was presented by Minister Sarah Hoffman and MLA Erin Babcock. The society was nominated by Mayor Rod Shaigec and the Council of Parkland County. Several dedicated members of the Light Up Your Life Society were present at the reception including Sharon Cornelius, Daphne LeGrow, Zoie Perina, Jean Shaul, Dorothy Balkwill, and Ann Bumback. The Volunteer Board Directors of the Society include Linda McCreath, Sharon Cornelius, Dorothy Balkwill, Daphne LeGrow, Lee Peters, Jean Shaul, Zoie Perina, Shirley Groleau, Wendy Bergersen, and Sylvia Baron. Light Up Your Life Society Website