The Wheatland & Area Hospice Society (WAHS) continues to work tirelessly within Strathmore and Wheatland County to fundraise to build a rural hospice for the area. 

Starting in 2015 with a fundraising goal of 2.7 Million dollars, it has taken many people along the road to get to where they are now. Joni McNeely, President of the WAHS explained that this goal is just to get the facility built. 

Government funding is not provided to hospice societies for the building of the facilities in Alberta noted McNeely and she has not heard of a time it has been across Canada. Once the facility is built and running, there will be operational funding of approximately 40-50 per cent from the government with the rest coming from fundraising efforts. This is something McNeely notes will be ongoing. 

This month Drew and Erin Gregory teamed up with Farming For Hospice, to work towards getting donations to cover 160 acres of land. They surpassed that goal and are currently sitting at 190+ acres sponsored.  

Along with that Drew brought together artists Lyndsay Butler, Ryan Langlois, and Blake Reid for a wrap-up performance held at the Strathmore Golf Club on Saturday, November 27.  

It went better than he could have hoped, "I was blown away, we set some pretty lofty goals and still exceeded those by a lot. It was really cool just going around to the different communities. That's what I love about this. It serves the whole of Wheatland County, and every single person I talked to, without a bit of hesitation, was right in on it and asking how they could help."

After everything was done, the tally was staggering with a total of $66,500 raised in a campaign that ran for less than a month with support from Wheatland County residents and businesses, along with people outside of Wheatland County stepping up.

Even with this fundraising event wrapping up, calls have been coming in from people asking how they can still help.

McNeely is thrilled to see such strong support for this and knows the importance of what Drew and Erin have done for the organization, "When they did their social media campaign, and the sharing of their thoughts about hospice, the raffles, selling their tickets, it raised awareness of hospice and palliative care to a younger group who might not have seen themselves as affected by death and dying," McNeely feels that along with monetary donations there is also so much value in continuing to raise awareness about the WAHS and its goals.

McNeely and WAHS member Gerry Kroon both spoke about the gratitude they have for the continued support from the farming community in this area. The volunteer hours and donations come in many forms from monetary to time to products and allow the Farming For Hospice project to go ahead each year. She was moved during the wrap-up show by the first round of songs where each artist chose to sing about family, grandfathers and the importance of the messages coming through to the audience.

As a physician, McNeely has had to have many difficult conversations with patients and their families about end-of-life care and what that means for them.  This cause is also very personal for her, "I was a daughter who had a mother who palliated at home with ovarian cancer and she died in my house in 2012. I'm a daughter who had a dad with dementia, who kind of languished in a care facility in Calgary."

Along with care that is more long term, there is a plan for daily care, "The idea is to have the three beds to start with and then a day hospice so that people that are palliating in their home can come in for the day do some activities, get some care, see some familiar faces and then go back into their home."

Knowing not everyone has the option to be at home for their final days is what drives the members of the WAHS to keep pushing. McNeely believes everyone deserves to be somewhere they feel comforted and cared for during this time and she knows this facility will be that place for those in this area. 

The fundraising efforts continue as the team has just passed the two-million-dollar mark, but still have a long way to go to have the facility built, to find out more about the WAHS and how to be involved visit