Back: Brock Nicholson, Vivian Wong, Wendy Johnson Front: Kay Johnson. Photo credits: Theresa McManus.

It’s been about 4 months since our AGM in December and much has happened. We will be hosting another Community Conversation in the very near future so we will bring everyone up to speed in detail then but, for now, here is the latest news.

Since we were committed to the tasks of the Compassionate City Charter, our focus has been to get the partnership with the City of New Westminster in place. To that end, we presented to City Council on March 6, 2017. They directed us to the Community and Social Issues Committee where we presented a recommendation to declare New Westminster a Compassionate City which they passed unanimously. This means that the recommendation is now in their minutes and will be dealt with at a Council meeting for Council’s approval. The wheels of democracy grind slowly. We are waiting to hear from them.

The Board has met 4 times to get to know each other, set some policies in place and to get working on some of the Charter tasks. We have been successful in forming a partnership with the Arts Council of New Westminster for a big project incorporating the theme of living until dying. Look for a media launch very soon. Another Charter task is working with the business community to educate them on how to best support employees through end-of-life care issues and grief. There is a fair amount of preparation and research that goes into a project like this. And another task is to have some death and grief education starting in the school system when school starts up in the fall.

We have been working on grant applications so that we can get some part-time staff to oversee all the work that is happening. We were successful in receiving a small grant from the BC Centre for Palliative Care and have also applied for 3 other grants. Senior Services Society was one of the first organizations to become a partner and has been very helpful and supportive to us. One of the issues we face is the long wait to receive our charitable tax status. Hopefully that will also come through very soon as we applied for it last September. Seems like it is a year-long process these days. In the meantime, we are hoping to have a fundraiser during the Canada Day celebrations. We will be asking for your help with that as soon as we finalize some details.

So, while we wait for all these needed tools to move forward, we are still meeting with groups and individuals, looking for partnerships and ways to work together to support the people in our city at end-of-life or in grief. One piece of that process is developing the volunteer training program. The Board and 3 volunteers have been enduring our trying out a more current way of training volunteers on them. They are almost finished a 6 lesson program which we will then edit and tweak to offer to the community. Building all these pieces takes time but we are close to being able to share all these details with all of you. Thanks, in advance, for your patience.

Our Facebook page and our Twitter account (@NewWestHospice) are active almost every day and, as we have concrete details to share, we will post them there. We are developing a website as well but it isn’t up and running yet.

The recent changes to the Societies Act require us to hold an AGM within 6 months of our fiscal year end. For us, year end is March 31 so we will need to have our second AGM by the end of September. And, of course, that will also mean membership renewal.

Lots of exciting things will be coming up very soon so stay tuned to local and social media. Hopefully, we can hire someone who will be the contact person at the other end of the phone when you have questions or are wondering what’s going on.

Kay Johnson, Chair.

Pallium Canada will be hosting a Mobilizing Compassionate Communities Symposium Take 2 on September 20th, 2017. This will be a FREE event, register here.