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.
With a lofty goal of raising $2.7 million, WAHS has been in action since 2015 to make their goal a reality.
The second Hospice Harvest Wrap-Up Show took place on Friday night at the Strathmore Legion. Drew Gregory and his wife Erinn got this event started last year as part of 'Project Wild,' a competition Drew explained he was taking part in that had a charitable element and WAHS seemed like the perfect fit, "She (Erinn) is the reason we started this whole thing, she is so passionate about this kind of care."
For this year's show Gregory invited fellow artists Devin Cooper and Mariya Stokes to join him for an evening of music. Unfortunately, due to illness Drew was not able to attend and Alberta singer-songwriter Shaela Miller stepped in. There was also local talent showcased throughout the evening with Erinn Gregory, Mike Smith and Melissa Mitzner all taking a turn on the mic.
As the old saying goes, the show must go on, and the crowd was treated to a fantastic evening of music. WAHS President Dr. Joni McNeely was thrilled to see so much support.
"Friday was such a great night and it was so nice to see a mix of young and old, new supporters and supporters who have been with us for so many years, and the music was fantastic. What a great way for everybody to come together for a great cause."
McNeely explained the initial goal of $2.7 million is within reach but with inflation, those costs to build will most likely increase and they are waiting on that report now. Along with building costs, once the facility is constructed there will still be a need.
"In the past with other hospices, Alberta Health Services has provided anywhere between 40 and 50% of the operating costs. At this point in time, they've not committed to any amount of funding, so we're working with them to try and encourage them to find some budgetary expenses for us as well. We're hoping that we can get some operating funding from other sources."
WAHS has been working for 7 years to raise funds and it is events like this that show McNeely that they are on the right track.
"It's so reassuring to see the community as a whole, individuals, as well as different groups providing support to us, it's heartwarming. It encourages us to keep on moving forward and there's so many moving parts to building a hospice and running a hospice that we're just so encouraged by everybody's input."
With this event wrapped up, Gregory was grateful to see the support again during the second year with 200 acres sponsored and $69,000 raised. He sees this as a yearly event that he and Erinn will continue to put on in the future.
"We have so much fun doing it and it's obviously a great fundraiser, maybe the funds shift to just the operating after it's built, with the costs and everything going up it's going to be a long haul."
It has also been said many times 'it takes a village" and this event was no different with 200 guests at a sold out venue. The Royal Canadian Legion were gracious hosts who donated the space, and there were many sponsors who also helped bring this show to life including Addlee Ventures Ltd, Origin Brewing, Baldwin BBQ & Catering, Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant, and Premium AG Solutions, with dinner being served by Dobre Food and Catering.
For anyone that would still like to support the WAHS with either the purchase of a portion or full acre or in any other way, McNeely encourages supporters to reach out to the website wheatlandhospice.ca for information.
McNeely said even with costs going up the end goal will be the same to have space for 3-6 hospice beds available to the residents of Strathmore and Wheatland County so family may be together during end of life care, and for those in need they can be in their own community and find comfort and peace in their final days.
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