Community steps up for palliative care residence
By Nick Zacharias
PHOTO COURTESY VSPCR
Front: Christine Boyle, Executive Director and Nathalie Blanchet, Director of Philanthropic Development for MSPVS; Back: Marie Caron and Gilles Hébert, organizers of the poinsettia campaign.
The Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence (VSPCR), located in a peaceful setting on Como Gardens in Hudson, has provided free, dignified, comfortable end-of-life care for over 1,600 patients since they opened their doors 10 years ago, and they’ve done so while relying on the generosity of charitable donations to supply the majority of the $1.5 million it takes to run the operation annually.
This year, COVID-19 threw a rather large wrench into their plans, especially for fundraising.
“We had to cancel our annual golf tournament, our wild game supper, all the events we normally hold to raise money for the foundation,” said VSPCR Communications Director Josée Descôteaux. Cancelling gatherings for the sake of COVID safety dealt a major blow to their financial outlook for this year.
PHOTO COURTESY VSPCR
A sea of happy red holiday poinsettias ran dry long before the generosity of the community did; companies and private citizens gave in record amounts to support the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence in this challenging year.
Poinsettias to the rescue
One popular fundraiser they were able to continue was the sale of Christmas poinsettias, but even that didn’t come without challenges. Said Descôteaux, “We order our poinsettias in March to be ready for the following Christmas. But last March, with COVID just starting, we didn’t know what to expect.” In the name of prudence and not winding up stuck with a tonne of extra plants, long-time volunteer campaign organizer Gilles Hébert cut their regular order of 3,000 plants in half.
“Gilles is so amazing,” said Descôteaux. “He’s been with us for 10 years, right from the start. So when he started calling companies in October to buy poinsettias, they responded enormously.” So enormously in fact that the plants sold out in short order, including the extra 200 they scrounged at the last minute. “Companies were so responsive to Gilles and the other volunteers,” said MSPVS Executive Director Christine Boyle, “Caisse Desjardins in Vaudreuil actually doubled their regular annual donation in honour of our 10-year anniversary. We really appreciate everyone’s support.”
Community makes the difference
With poinsettias sold out from a reduced supply, the VSPCR was left with a major shortfall. “We started an email campaign to ask people who know us to give money to support the foundation, even without a poinsettia to offer, to support the comfort and care we provide for patients and their families,” said Descôteaux, who was amazed by the overwhelming community response. “We couldn’t believe the generosity.”
In all the VSPCR Foundation raised $100,232 with the poinsettia campaign – an increase over last year’s $79,000 and a new record. Said Boyle, “The Ministry of Health and the federal government both stepped up this year with extra funding because of the pandemic, and with the huge success of the poinsettia campaign we’re in good shape for now. I do worry about what the future will hold though, so now I’m focusing on our next event.” The next fundraiser on the horizon will be a modified, online version of their annual Gala ‘Happening’ for which details will be coming soon.