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Smile Cookies help raise funds for Hospice Niagara as financial pressure mounts

Organization 'holding its breath' as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise
Hospice Niagara - Close up
Hospice Niagara Executive Director Carol Nagy in full decorating action. Photo: Courtesy of Hospice Niagara

Another critical fundraiser for Hospice Niagara kicks off today as the famous ‘Smile cookies’ goes up on the menu at Tim Horton’s.

When bought at Tim Hortons in Welland, Fort Erie, Crystal Beach, and Stevensville, 100% of the proceeds will be directed to Hospice Niagara.

In St. Catharines and Thorold, proceeds will be shared with FACS Niagara.

Hospice Niagara executive director Carol Nagy went down to a location herself on Monday to help decorate some of the cheery sweets.

“It is not as easy as it looks,” said Nagy to Thorold News.

In her rendition, they sometimes come out winking or smirking rather than brandishing a big smile – but it’s the cause that keeps Nagy working the frosting gun.

Every year her organization needs to raise 60 percent of its operating budget, used not only for end-of-life services for patients, but that also runs a wide array of support programs and counseling services for surviving relatives and friends from the time of diagnosis.

This year it’s all virtual, and at any given time between 10 and 15 groups are running at the same time.

“There is a sense of community and a sense of not being alone in managing these difficult times in our lives. Connecting on an individual basis or groups help.

We show that you don’t have to suffer alone,” Nagy explained.

But while the virtual connection has made it easier for residents to make it to appointments without having to physically be there, the operating costs have skyrocketed as everything from equipment to bandwidth has been upgraded to meet the demand.

Protective gear, increased sanitation, and staff costs have also added to the growing $100,000 bill that the pandemic response has racked up so far.

At the residence, the staff has had to adapt to a new, trying reality while fighting to maintain a calm and dignified environment for its patients who are at the end of their life journey.

Family members have been able to visit, but the hospice also had to get creative to maintain the desired level of interaction with loved ones.

“We have done window visits, with family standing outside to communicate with their relatives, we have passed on stories and memories between family. There has been lots of legacy work where a person is at the end of life creates hand- and thumbprints, poems, writings, and of course a lot of phone and Skype visits.

We never budged on end-of-life compassionate visits,” Nagy said.

Hospice Niagara is entering an uncertain fall as COVID-19 numbers are rising in Ontario and across the globe.

“We are holding our breath like everybody. We are hoping we will not have a second wave that will continue to put stress on our staff and patients,” Nagy said.

For more information about Hospice Niagara fundraisers, and Smile Cookies, visit this link.