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Memorial tree pays tribute to loved ones, helps Hospice Quinte

By Ashley Clark [6]

BELLEVILLE – Placing a white dove on the Hospice Quinte [7] memorial tree is something 78-year-old Diane Raycroft has been doing for 12 years in honour of her late husband, William.

“It’s a wonderful thing they do. I believe in donating to it. It’s a wonderful cause,” said Raycroft after handing over her donation and in turn having the delicate white ornament hung on the tree at the Quinte Mall [8].

Hospice Quinte is a non-profit organization that provides free palliative care to anyone dealing with a life-altering or life-threatening illness. It also helps families with in-home patient care and support-group programs. It is run almost entirely by its 120 volunteers.

Robert Howell is one of those volunteers; he’s been helping for the past two years.

From left, Robert Howell and Helen Mastin sit at the Hospice Quinte memorial tree campaign booth. Howell has been a volunteer for two years, but it was Mastin's first time on the job. She says she looks forward to getting more involved with the organization in the future. Photo by Ashley Clark [9]

Robert Howell and Helen Mastin at the Hospice Quinte memorial tree campaign booth. Howell has been a volunteer for two years, but it was Mastin’s first time on the job. She says she looks forward to getting more involved with the organization. Photo by Ashley Clark, QNet News

Sitting at the table cluttered with feathery white doves, and sporting a navy blue suit and tie, Howell said the campaign is a good way to let the community know what the organization is all about. It also encourages the spirit of the holidays, he said.

“Christmas is a good time to get asking. It’s a giving season. It’s also a season where people tend to remember those that they’ve lost. So it gives them an opportunity to perhaps recognize what hospice has done for the community.”

HospiceQuinte_320_320_70_c1 [10]There are two Christmas trees wrapped in lights at the Quinte Mall display. White doves are hung on the trees; each has a little note attached. “In loving memory,” each starts, followed by a handwritten name.

To be able to hang a dove, people can donate whatever they see fit to Hospice Quinte.

The donations will be used to fund training courses for volunteers and enhance the support programs [11] and services that Hospice Quinte provides, said community-relations and fund-development co-ordinator Rachel Pearsall.

Since the memorial-tree campaign started 16 years ago, it has raised over $50,000.

Though donations are beneficial, Howell said, money isn’t the only thing that Hospice Quinte needs.

“It may be very simple to donate $5 or $10 … but what they really need are volunteers,” he said.

Liz McLennan has just finished the training program for volunteers. As she sat at the booth with fellow volunteer Ruth Owen, McLennan said that one of the most important gifts the volunteers can provide is a listening ear:

Pearsall said the volunteers are what keeps Hospice Quinte alive and able to keep up with demand for its services.

“We really try to have as many volunteers as possible to ensure we don’t have a waiting list. Because when people contact us, usually the person is terminally ill and time is really of the essence.”

Howell said that recognizing the reality of the patients’ situation is how the volunteers cope with grief and loss.

“We all know what the outcome is,” he said.

Pearsall said the organization strives to provide as much support as possible to the volunteers.

“There’s always a lot of tears at hospice, but there’s also a lot of laughter, and we try to see the positive and the joy of what our staff and our volunteers can provide to our patients.”

The memorial-tree campaign will run until Sunday, Dec. 13. The booth is outside the Eddie Bauer store.

Here is a video report from QNet News reporter Brock Ormond on the story: