A garden party at the Langley Hospice Society (LHS) offices last week was not so much about the dead and dying, but about the children who are left behind.
The local organization held its third annual awareness and fundraising event on Thursday, Aug. 13,and during the outdoor festivities thanks were handed out to all the community heroes who help build a special garden in the backyard that is dedicated specifically to the child bereavement programs offered by hospice.
When fundraising coordinator Shannon Todd Booth joined hospice three summers ago, the first big task she was handed was organizing a garden party. One of the next chores was helping turn a giant mound of dirt in the backyard into a magical sanctuary for children.
The hospice residence for patients in the final stages of life are offered out of an interim facility called Maple Hill at Langley Memorial Hospital.
But the society operates its offices and outreach programs out of a house on 48th Avenue, which is accented with some well-established gardens – hence the choice to host a garden party each year.
But it’s a little section of that new garden that has Linda Sheridan, the hospice child and youth bereavement coordinator, overjoyed to the point of tears.
After a year and a half of voluntarily working on this project off the sides of their desks, representatives from local companies such as Horizon Landscape, Burnco Landscape Centre, Samara Designs were on hand to be publicly thanked for creating a friendly, safe outdoor haven for children to frolic, play, and talk about how death has or is impacting them.
The garden, which would have cost more than $17,000 to build, was all done through donations of time and products from people who believed in the cause, Sheridan said.
“An enormous heart felt thank you to Brian Doughtery and Todd Lee and the phenomenal team from Horizon Landscape contractors who took on the project from the get-go and donated an enormous amount of hours to create this spectacular space,” said Sheridan.
“They took our vision for a unique and inspiring, child-friendly outdoor programming space to what you see today… and they engaged others… it truly does ‘take a village’ so to speak.”
They expressed thanks to the Horizon team, as well as Jarrod McAleese of Samara Designs, who Sheridan explained, designed the unique space; to Barry Vignall and Allan Bloxom from Burnco Landcape Centers, for the all of the gravel and soil, and so much more; Anders Danielssson of Abbotsford Concrete Products, for the amazing stone work in the garden; Shaun Hunt of Bella Turf, for the fabulous turf in the garden – blissfully unaffected by watering restrictions; Tracy Reitsma from Western Water Farms, for the carefully chosen water feature; Rob VanZanten from Pan American Nurseries for the majority of the plantings in the garden; Louis Murgg from Forevergreen Landscaping, for the crucial watering system; The Zoe Project, for the intricate child friendly details and the support for the gravel paths; Rite-Way Fencing, for the chainlink for our memorial lock project; Surrey Cedar, for the cedar for the arbor; Diane Gillis and the Fraser Valley Orchid Society, for the picnic tables, Castle Hill Contracting, for their installation of the fencing; Brenda Murphy, for the fabulous birdhouses; Carolyn Carter, for her donations of garden tools and accessories and many of the lovely statues throughout the garden; Marcy Court, for the hostas and other plantings; Sydney and Kevin Carrick and Ruth Noble, for the shed re-organizations and shelving systems, and the list goes on.
“Finally to the Langley Hospice volunteer garden team led by Sydney Carrick and Thornton Smith, and the rest of this amazing group of volunteers: Ruth Noble, Colleen Maclaren, Roy Clements, Bob Meighen, Dale Attrell, who have provided hundreds of hours between them, to help create and maintain this fabulous space, nd the adjoining grounds. We are truly blessed to have the fabulous folks on our team,” Sheridan said.
What else is in store for hospice
Hospice chair Kathy Derksen also eluded to a larger, more exciting announcement she hopes to make next year.
First, she acknowledged a year of change for the organization, including a significant change at the helm.
“We said a fond farewell to our executive director Sandra Castle, whose dedication and passion for hospice served us so admirably for more than 10 years,” Derksen said.
She was replaced by Nancy Panchuk, who wasn’t able to attend the garden party because of the lose of a loved-one.
But the best news, at least in gauging Derksen’s excitement during her speech, was hopes of a replacement of what she called a temporary Langley hospice residence at Langley Memorial Hospital.
“In June we celebrated the tenth anniversary of our interim Langley Hospice Residence, which is housed in Maple Hill, an aged and challenging building located on the LMH grounds,” she explained.
“Whilst 10 years of hospice care in Langley was indeed a celebration, it was a milestone for the interim hospice that I never envisioned some 10 years ago. Back then, we thought ‘interim’ meant it would be only a couple of years until we would have a brand new, maybe even freestanding hospice residence for our Langley community. For one reason or another this did not happen, though the excellent support and care provided at the residence by our Fraser Health medical staff and LHS volunteers over these 10 years has been truly superb and is has become well renowned in the Fraser Health area.”
She insisted that the hospice board has never lost sight of the vision of a new hospice residence, and has been “busy advocating and working hard towards this goal” during the past few years.
“Whilst I cannot make any announcements tonight on our achievements to date, it is my sincere hope that by this time next year we will be much closer to achieving our dream of a new hospice residence for Langley,” she said, receiving tremendous applause from the dozens of guests in the garden.
“It is my sincere hope that I will be up here, same time next year, sharing details with you of yet another major accomplishment for Langley Hospice.