ARCH asked, and the community responded.
Monday, June 25, to Friday, June 29, ARCH will be opening their doors from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for public tours after their recent expansion. This expansion was made possible by donations made by the community, who rallied together to raise $3.1 million -in just six months – for this great cause.
ARCH announced their desire to expand in November of 2017, just after they launched their pediatric palliative care program.
“What we wanted to be able to do was to not only remove the age barriers, but also the weight barriers, and basically just have more room for our residents and their wish fulfillment,” said Lee Rendell, Manager of Fund Development for ARCH. “A lot of people don’t realize this, but before expansion, we were actually underbuilt – the average size of a 10-bed hospice in Ontario is 15,000 sq ft, and we were only 10. So, really, not only did we want to be able to offer the specialty suite for pediatric care that could also work for bariatric care, but we wanted to be able to give our families a little bit more room, in order for final wishes, for family reunions, dinners, children’s play area. We just wanted to be able to up the quality of care that we’re able to provide.”
They decided to launch a capital campaign, called Why It Matters. This campaign brought ARCH together with stakeholders in the community, showing that they serve the Algoma district as well as the Sault.
“We worked with donors, community members, past families, board members, volunteers, to really show and tell all of these hospice stories,” Rendell explained. We actually did a series of videos as well, and we just asked people ‘why does it matter to support expansion and to support ARCH?'”
Six months later, in June of 2017, ARCH was able to announce that the money they needed to expand was raised in full and they were able to break ground on the project.
Christine Gagnon has been volunteering at ARCH for 10 years; as long as it’s been open. She is one of the many volunteers that helps keep the hospice running smoothly. Her previous experience as a PSW makes her a jack-of-all-trades – she does everything from helping in the kitchen to doing laundry to helping with the residents if need-be.
“It’s really gratifying to help families,” she said. “It’s just a blessing to be here, I find. I know you meet people near the end of their life and it’s great to be able to counsel, help out and talk to the family when they need it, when they’re grieving – it’s the hardest thing to go through.”
Chef Tom Baeuerle has been creating culinary masterpieces at ARCH off and on for over 5 years. He said one of his favourite things about his job is the contact he gets to have with the residents and their families.
“You can make a difference in somebody’s life without being intrusive.”
He said he likes being in the central hub of the building.
“This (the kitchen) is one of the focal points of ARCH. People come here, they talk, and they talk to you, so they get an outsiders viewpoint sometimes. (We) try to put humour in, try to make it a little lighter, because it’s serious enough the way it is,” he explained. “To me, the whole concept of ARCH is important – to have a dignified place to get to the end of your life journey. And to be part of that is really what brought me back here, and the fact that even down the road, we run into some family members that we’ve met here, they’re connections that last a lot longer than just the stay here at ARCH. And a lot of those family members become volunteers down the road here as well, so if you can have a little bit of a positive impact on that, it’s awesome. It’s very gratifying work. Even for the sad purpose that it is, it’s very gratifying.”
“It’s really, deeply gratifying to know that we live in such a warmhearted community,” Rendell said of how it feels to see the expansion come to life. “I think there’s this tendency for us in the north not to totally appreciate how amazing our community members are, and how supportive they are, but we get to see it at hospice all the time. They really are, we really do live in one of the best communities in Canada, and I just want the Sault to know that, and I want Algoma to know that. I want everyone to know how much we appreciate serving Algoma and being able to, each and every year, realize that they appreciate what we do for them and that they donate in return so that we’re able to continue serving them.
“This is the community’s hospice and we want to be able to really showcase to the community what they were able to do by helping us and what they’re able to do for local families,” she continued. “So we’d love to show you around – join us for some coffee and tea; it can be a five-minute tour, it can be a 20-minute tour, it’s up to you. But it’s absolutely amazing – you don’t really know the impact it has until you walk through those doors. So we’re trying to get people to come in and really see the amazing things that they’ve done by supporting us throughout the years.”
ARCH asks the public to call ahead and book a time, if possible, to minimize the impact on their current residents. Tours will take place from June 25-29.
To book a tour, contact Alex at [email protected] or by calling (705) 942-1556 ex. 202.