As many as 120 people purchased tickets for the Second Annual Elliot Lake Palliative Care Program’s Fundraiser Gala titled An Evening at Octoberfest.
The event was held at the Collins Hall on Oct. 26.
The Octoberfest theme dinner had German cuisine such as bratwurst sausage, veal schnitzel, roast beef, porgies, soup, salads and assorted vegetables.
Sylvie Ferland Gerrard, Elliot Lake Palliative Care Program administrator/coordinator, thanked the donors, volunteers and friends of the program for all of their contributions.
“I could not do my job without all your generous commitments.”
They also held a silent auction that had a tool set, gift cards and more.
Gerrard told the gathering that “The Elliot Lake Palliative Care’s mission is to assist clients by providing a trained, caring, friendly volunteer to support them and their family during the palliative stage of terminal illness.”
They provide the services in the home, the hospital and long-term care facilities.
She added that since March of this year they provided services to 33 clients with more than 1,340 hours of service.
“Volunteers spend up to four hours at a time with clients. They provide respite for caregivers; they try to alleviate their fears and anxiety. They help with writing and video messages… support the family in their grief before, during and after the death.”
The Elliot Lake Palliative Care Program gets the majority of its funding from the North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN), a total of $60,000.
“But after operational cost and wages, it doesn’t leave much for programming. We are expected to raise at least $10,000 a year to continue present initiatives.”
Gerrard said she was disappointed with the turnout for the Octoberfest Gala. They hoped to sell most of their 250 tickets. As a result they raised $3,166, which is about $6,800 short of their commitment.
“We didn’t do so well this year,” says Gerrard.
She suspects the number of those attending was down because they were competing with a few other events in the city that evening.
She adds that some people bought tickets to support Palliative Care Program, but admitted that they would not attend because they were committed to going to another event.
To avoid competing with other events in 2020, Gerrard says they are looking at moving it earlier in October next year.
At last year’s gala, they were able to raise $16,000. With those funds they were able to purchase two virtual reality goggles. These goggles can help those at the end of life who would have loved to travel to Mexico, but were never able to go.
“We these goggles we can give them that experience, including the actual flight into Mexico.”
The program was also able to fill a part-time position and they hired Anita Larocque.
In addition, they were also able to train five new volunteers in Spanish and six in Elliot Lake.
Gerrard says they also brought in music therapy to help the clients.
The lower amount collected means they will have to hold other fundraising events to raise the additional money they need for their programs.
Gerrard says they will be hosting the Christmas tribute ornament fundraiser. It will be in December in the Pearson Plaza on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will be selling Christmas ornaments for $5 each and the person can have a name written in memory of a loved one or someone who is at the end of life.
In addition, those who purchase an ornament will have their names printed in The Standard, she says.
They would like to continue to raise money for a local hospice and to provide the programs they offer such as bereavement support, advanced care planning in the form of community presentations. They also hope to recruit and train volunteers.
The Elliot Lake Palliative Care Program currently runs with about 45 volunteers, but they could use more, Gerrard says.
“We’re always looking for more.”
To be a volunteer, Gerrard says the person needs to undergo a screening.
The volunteers then take a 30-hour training program to learn how to work with the palliative patients in their homes or the hospital. The training is free for the volunteer. When they complete the course they are sent with an experienced volunteer until they are comfortable in their role, explains Gerrard.
Anyone interested can call Gerrard at 705-848-7182, ext. 2207.