Hello, my name is Marja. My family (husband and our 3 children) emigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1988. Shortly after arriving we welcomed our fourth child; life in Canada has been good to us. With four kids and our own agriculture business, it was always a busy and exciting time for us. Now our children are grown, married and have children of their own. We have 9 amazing grandchildren between the ages of 1 and 9 years old. They are so much fun!
In May 2007, my Dad, in the Netherlands, died. For me, that was the beginning of something that I did not really understand before: grief. It was a hard road for me and living so far away did not make it any easier. By this time all our children had moved out of the house and I felt kind of lost. Then I saw an ad in the paper for Chilliwack Hospice Society; I went for a visit and later I signed up to take the Hospice volunteer training. Soon after, I started to volunteer at the hospice on a regular basis. Cascade Hospice was always such a good place to be. The hospice is not a hospital. Volunteers are there for the patient, and sometimes even more so for the family of a patient, and it is such a privilege. To be able to help people in hospice, to make dying and death a little less scary, to give people a feeling of home and a sense of normalcy during a difficult time is something I care deeply about. I always feel honoured to sit with people and talk with them, supporting them along their journey.
Another part of the work I do is with the vigil team. Having someone available to come and sit in a vigil for a loved one is very comforting for families, knowing that there is someone watching over their loved one when they cannot be there themselves.
Sometimes life throws curveballs – my husband had cancer and it was too challenging for me to be at hospice while I was facing cancer at home as well. Then when my mother died, I needed time away to do my grieving for her as well. Now that my husband is well, I am happy to be back at Cascade Hospice helping again. And of course, we have lots of babysitting and playdates with our grandchildren, which we love to do! We are blessed to have many people around who care for us and support us. I know that is not how it is for many people, and that is one more reason why I love going to the hospice. I love to be able to give of my time and help others.
Everyone who works and volunteers with Cascade Hospice is awesome; they all support and care for one another. We meet on a regular basis and we share and talk about our lives, about Hospice, and about the work that we do there. Being part of The Chilliwack Hospice Society is an important part of my life, and volunteering at Cascade Hospice feels right and good.
Hi, my name is Terri and I volunteer at the Thrifty Boutique. I started volunteering in November 2019. I chose to volunteer for the Chilliwack Hospice Society because I had a niece in the hospice, and I wanted to give back.
I am retired but my husband is still working. Volunteering at the store gets me out of the house and I have met some amazing people and it’s a fun atmosphere to be in.
In my spare time, I like gardening, canning, cooking and puzzles.
My name is Martha. I have been involved as a Hospice volunteer since 2013 after spending my life in a chosen profession of nursing for 51 years. My mother instilled in me the need and reward of “caring volunteering”. Death in a large family situation was not foreign to me and we were not sheltered from the realities of it.
In my career, I had a special “feel” for terminal patients, giving support and dignity to them and their families. My volunteering weekly at Cascade Hospice offers me the same opportunity to interact with clients and extended families & friends with reassurance and a listening ear. I love the “hominess” of the Cascade facility. Many of the small niceties can be met by us Cascade volunteers – rearranging bedside areas, offering drinks, observing cards, pictures & mementos brought from home, or just offering companionship. When newly arrived, we assist in acquainting clients and families to the facility and reinforcing its values. When death does occur, we offer comfort, nearness, and the assurance that nothing will be rushed in their grief time.
Hi, my name is Susan. I joined the Thrifty Boutique in 2010. I had shopped many times there and found the place to be inviting and friendly. As I was new to this area and had been volunteering all my life, I felt that this store would be a good fit for me.
Funny that I would end up working at sorting & pricing clothes as I am the least fashionable person going……but that is mainly where I work in the back sorting room where we have lots of fun and laughs. I also look after the “Seasonal Storage Room” fondly called “Susan’s Christmas Room” by my backroom pals. I enjoy the friendly people. We are all a great team working for a great cause.
I have three sons and 9 grandchildren. My eldest lives in Langley and is involved in the movie industry. My middle son has a farm in Alberta and drives a logging truck. My youngest lives in Langley and is a firefighter. We are an active outdoors family enjoying skiing, fishing, hiking, quading, hunting, horseback riding. In my spare time, I head to the gym and exercise classes or for long walks. I am a voracious reader and doer of crossword and jigsaw puzzles. I also cross stitch.
Important in my life are my friends…lots of time with friends and the occasional glass of wine. Volunteering makes my heart smile!!
Hi, I am Gisele. I was a Registered Nurse for 40 years, including 20 years as a Military Nurse. I have 2 adult children; my son lives in Penticton and my daughter is here in Chilliwack.
I started to volunteer at the Hospice Thrifty Boutique in April 2010. I chose to volunteer a few months after my husband passed away in 2009. Shortly after his passing, I went to donate his clothes at the Thrifty Boutique where I was warmly greeted by very kind and empathetic ladies. I decided to join them and amongst them, there are many who have lost their loved one. When donors come in, they often wish to confide to us. We do our best to listen to them and offer support whenever possible.
It is a very gratifying place to volunteer because the revenues of our productivity bring resources for all the Hospice Programs and to the Community. And, I get to meet different people who are nice, warm, empathetic and inspirational who often become friends.
Hi, my name is Debra. My first volunteering with Chilliwack Hospice Society was through my work at Scotiabank. Naturally, they got me to come and count money for big events! I think many of us has been touched by a personal experience through Cascade Centre, leaving a lasting memory of the kindness and care provided. Not only to our loved ones but ourselves as well. I now volunteer at the Thrift Store, which is fun, and rewarding to give back to the community. I consider them all my friends. As a good Girl Guide says…. make new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other gold.
I am a member of a local Theatre Company, The Chilliwack Players Guild, which takes up lots of my spare time, helping with everything from set construction, painting, props to producing and have occasionally been on stage! The Chilliwack Players Guild also volunteers at Hospice events, dressed up in our finest costumes, to help with what we call “Seating and Greeting”. I also sing with a group of friends; we like to sing acapella and have a fabulous leader who arranges music for us!
My husband and I have 2 kids, one who lives in Montreal and another who lives in Chilliwack.
My name is Vi. I have been a Chilliwack Hospice Society volunteer since 2002. My mother was in Hospice in Calgary and I wanted to understand her path, so I began to volunteer. At first, just in the office and the Quiet room in the hospital, then as my knowledge expanded, so did the fields in which I volunteered. I have also volunteered doing One on One’s, Vigils, Respite, One on One at Hospice with my dog and volunteered with my husband Jim for Hike for Hospice. In 2016 I was honoured to receive from The Chilliwack Rotary Club “The Paul Harris Fellow Award”. Volunteering allows me to show compassion and love of humanity when people need it most.
For 20 years my husband was in the Canadian UN Force taking him to Cyprus, Egypt, Golan Heights, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while the children and I stayed in Chilliwack. We made this choice so that our five children wouldn’t have to change school districts every three years. Our faith and our love for each other and our families kept us together for 53 years. Jim died in December 2018 leaving 4 children, 18 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Our son Robert died in 2005.
In my spare time I knit for my family, knit hats for the babies in the hospital, read, walk my dog Penny, enjoy our beautiful province, listen to music and work on whatever craft has hit my fancy at that time and baking.
Hi – my name is Vicki. My friend died at Cascade and the family received support from a caring Hospice volunteer. After the trauma of the death, I felt like I too, could volunteer at Cascade. I took the training and have been there for 10 years. A place that allows a loved one to die with as little pain as possible in an environment that provides a precious gift for family and the patient to say final good-byes in an environment of peace and dignity.
Later I began volunteering with the First Step Grief Group. It provides a safe and caring atmosphere to help family and friends adjust to the new reality without their loved one. Some I’ve known in Cascade. It is such an honor to have their trust to help them deal with their grief. Grief can hurt and confuse us. We so often say in the group, “Everyone in the room gets it” they are all living it. All the emotions are real, none are right or wrong. I learn too, each time we have a group, how to process grief without my loved one.
I have a husband who volunteers at the Thrifty Boutique, he believes as strongly as I do that this is an amazing organization. We are retired and can “give back”. We enjoy our grandkids and yes, our 5 great grandkids. I like to decorate, sew, and do all the things that I never had time to do before retiring. I also love to travel and to bring back memories that are used to decorate our travel room. I felt particularly fortunate last year to visit the first hospice opened at St. Christopher’s in London England. Amazing.
My name is Debbie, I am a Chilliwack Hospice Society Volunteer. When not volunteering I like to go for nature walks, photography, read, crochet, play ukulele and spend time with my granddaughters and family.
I am a 4-year Cervical Cancer survivor, after my battle with cancer and going through cancer treatments, I had a new look on life. I thought to myself, ‘if your lucky enough for a second chance don’t waste it.’
That is what drew me to become a Chilliwack Hospice Society Volunteer so that I could help individuals and families cope with dying and grief in any way I could. I have been a Chilliwack Hospice Volunteer since 2018 and I have used my Volunteer training provided by the Chilliwack Hospice Society to help others. I volunteer at Cascade, I am on the Vigil team, I answer phones at the Chilliwack Hospice Society Office and volunteer at the various fundraising events as well as at the Thrifty Boutique. I was a runway model for the Chilliwack Hospice Thrifty Boutique Fashionista Fashion show and volunteer at the Children’s Horse Whisperer Grief Camp.
I have never met a better group of amazing, caring, compassionate fun people as the Staff and Volunteers at the Chilliwack Hospice Society.“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does”
My name is Dorothy. I grew up in South Africa, leaving the country at the age of 19 for my adventure. I ended up in London, England. During this time, I met an Aussie; we married and moved to Australia where we bought a dairy farm. We raised 4 children and eventually moved to Chilliwack where a new lifestyle began. I was able to have a carefree life, while our 3 girls and 1 son were at school.
My children were between the ages of 16 –24 years when my husband of 24 years died very suddenly of Leukemia; this left a big void in my life. I wish I knew about Hospice at the time of his death. Now what do I do? I had heard of Hospice but had no idea what it involved. I did some research and decided this was for me. I knew I was going to be a perfect volunteer. Once the training was over, I started to visit patients in hospital, at first feeling a bit tentative, but I knew this was what I needed to do.
I have been a volunteer for Hospice since 1998. During this time my role as a volunteer has varied a great deal, from heading a Vigil Team to visiting individuals in their homes, hospital and now at Cascade Hospice. My role as a volunteer is to be able to support patients during their stay at Cascade and saying goodbye when they die: it is important for volunteers to “let go” because someone new will be arriving that needs our support. I must be able make the patient feel comfortable when they arrive, and to support the family with that patient. Families need our assurance that their loved one is now in good hands (doctor and nurses) and it is time for them to spend quality time with their loved one.
I love volunteering at Cascade Hospice and always feel after my shift that I have done my best. It is such an honour to be sitting quietly holding a person’s hand as they take their final breath. I hope I can continue volunteering for many more years. Who knows, maybe I will be a patient at Cascade Hospice someday, expecting my volunteer to respect me and to be with me all the way on my next journey.
Hello! My name is Colleen. I volunteer at the Chilliwack Hospice Society as a receptionist and I also volunteer for various events like the Gala, Hoedown, Hike for Hospice and the Tree of Life Celebration at Minter’s store every year.
I became involved with the Hospice Society because my husband passed away from cancer in 2011. After his death at the Hospice residence, I decided to give back in a meaningful way what we had been so blessed to receive and started volunteering for the Society in 2012.
While my husband was ill, I was in the unusual position of being his wife and primary caregiver and everyday became more of a challenge. We could never completely admit to ourselves that my husband was really dying. He wasn’t going to get better and we weren’t going to wake up from this nightmare! Fortunately, we did find some peace while he spent his very last 18 days at the Cascade Hospice Residence in Chilliwack. With the staff and volunteers’ nurturing, loving and compassionate care, their explanations, kind words and support to transition us from living to dying, we realized that my husband was indeed leaving us.
The amazing thing about Hospice care is that it shifts relationships back to their natural ones. I was no longer his nurse but his wife again. Although our two daughters & son were young adults, they were able to be his ‘kids’ again. This was such a relief to all of us but especially for my husband. During one of his very last evenings, our whole family had dinner together & then enjoyed watching the Canucks play from the comfort of his own private room. It almost felt like home!
For my kids and me, being my husband’s caregiver was truly was an act of love. Would I do this all over again? I hope I never have to… although I would but only hand in hand with the Chilliwack Hospice Society. They got us through our darkest days at the end of my husband’s life… and afterwards too as my daughters and I benefited from the Grief Support Step 1 Group. I continued onwards and took the Hospice Volunteer Training. Afterwards, I actually co-facilitated the Volunteer Training for a while & the Caregiver Support training too.
We are so grateful that we let Hospice care into our lives….not only to help us cope with the process of death & dying but also to cope with the process of living!
Hi, my name is Bonnie. I have been married to my husband Ron for 52 great years. We have 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. We lived and raised our family in New Westminster for 35 years. From 1979 to 1984, I owned and operated 3 consignment stores. One in Surrey and two in New Westminster. Those were fun years. From 1985 to 1997, I worked at Labatt Breweries in the HR department. In 1997, we retired and moved to Cultus Lake where we enjoy daily mountain walks and great friends. Back in 2009, I answered an ad looking for volunteers for the hospice thrifty boutique. The rest is history. I have been volunteering since the store opened. The cause is near and dear to my heart. Volunteering has taught me to be patient, non-judgmental and a good listener. The services and care that hospice provides is amazing. I have met so many nice people over the years, both volunteers and shoppers.
Hi, my name is Elaine. I have been volunteering at Hospice since January 2011. I have 4 grown children, 8 grown grandchildren, 3 step grandchildren and 7 amazing great grandchildren. I live with my beautiful diva cat Lucy.
When my Mom, who lived in Waterloo, Ontario, became terminally ill with cancer I was fortunate enough to be able to go there and spend her last 15 days with her. Her last 8 days were at a beautiful hospice setting and I was so impressed. At that time, I knew very little about hospice and what it meant. However, after this experience with my Mom, I knew that when I retired, I would volunteer in a hospice setting and begin to pay it forward.
I started at the Society office in January 2011 and except for a short ‘absence’, have been doing this ever since. Volunteering with such an incredible dedicated staff has been amazing. Everyone is so appreciative of anything we do and seeing their personal dedication to what Hospice does is heartwarming. The programs and support offered to the local community, free of charge, never ceases to amaze me. I look forward to my hours at the office and seeing the wonderful group of people who work there. I am also fortunate in that my shift is on a day when free relaxation therapy sessions are offered to people in grief. Having developed a relationship with the therapists and the people who attend makes my time there so much more rewarding and pleasant. I love the interaction with everyone doing the sessions and those getting the treatments.
I had also taken the Hospice training, and from October 2011 until November 2015 I also volunteered at Cascade Hospice where the patients are. Again, as in my Mom’s case, seeing the gentle loving care shown to the patients and their family touched me every time I was there. Unfortunately, I lost my husband in a tragic accident in November 2015 and I have been unable to go back to the residence.
I do however continue my volunteer hours at the Society office and helping at some of their fundraising events when I am able. I know they always say how much they appreciate their volunteers, but they make it easy to help them. The picture I have attached is at last year’s Volunteer Appreciation ‘hippy’ dinner – so much fun!!!
My name is Mary. I find my work at Cascade Hospice and the Chilliwack hospital both satisfying and rewarding. I started working at the hospice society a few years before Cascade Hospice was opened (in 2008) and I am still here. My career in nursing was about to end; I had been volunteering with Medical Missions International in the developing world while I was still working at Chilliwack General. I enjoyed working with staff and patients in the developing countries; one learns so much about humanity by being with different races, seeing where and how they live. I must say we have so much to be thankful for in this country Canada. I find that if I can assist my clients in any way as they begin a new journey in life , it’s very gratifying, and who knows, I may need help along the way too someday.
My husband is deceased and I have 5 children, 14 grand-children and 12 great grand-children. My children are busy with their lives but I do not have to tell anyone what a joy they are and how much they enrich my life. In my spare time I enjoy reading, walking, biking and working out at the gym. In the spring and fall, my gardens occupy my time.