During the pinnacle of the pandemic, I was asked what I missed most?
My mirror told me to say “a haircut”; my stomach said “delicious dining out”; my heart said “the treadmill at the gym”; and my right brain said “going to the movies,” while my logical left brain said “handshakes that sealed a deal”; but my soul said "hugs.”
My soul was right. Hugs that healed hurts. Hugs that celebrated caring. Hugs that conveyed a covenant of belonging to moments that became memories. When we kicked off our Stand By Me Campaign to build an additional 16,000 square feet to our existing hospice building, including 10 new beds, over 250 Sudburians gave a physical hug to our hospice.
Hugs are the currency of caring at the hospice. It’s a daily experience that is shared by staff, volunteers, patients, family and friends. When machinery and medicine can no longer provide a cure, hugs are the non-verbal commitment that we can care for everyone. The word hug became the acronym for Maison McCulloch Hospice:
HUG – Help Us Go – over 1,700 people have spent their last hours and days at the hospice on their own terms with respect, dignity, and love.
HUG – Help Us Grieve – family and friends have been supported in the journey of bereavement.
HUG – Help Us Guide – the staff and volunteers have guided people with education and empowerment.
HUG – Help Us Grow – the Stand By Me Campaign that concluded Feb. 27 this year raised over $9 million to build the new wing.
Other hugs included governance, God, Get’er done (Larry the Cable Guy), but the hospice needs more Help Us Give hugs. The COVID-19 pandemic’s social distancing has halted the generous hugs of donors and event organizers. We couldn’t have our Hike for the Hospice in May, a Scotch Tasting in April, or third-party fundraisers from golf tournaments to fishing tournaments. There was a significant reduction of memoriam gifts due to no funeral visitations. Many donors suffered a COVID cash crunch. All these monies were used to pay the operational expenses. In short, these funds kept the Hospice doors open.
Pure Country and the Sudbury Police Association have reached out, giving the hospice a hug of help. They are hosting the first annual Hospice Care-A-Thon on Wednesday, July 8 from 6 a.m. to noon. The co-hosts will be Coop, Sudbury’s favourite morning man, and Gerry Lougheed, the Hospice Foundation chair. It will be six hours of answering the question “Why do we care about the hospice?”
You will hear stories of real hospice hugs that healed hurting. You will meet the staff and volunteers who have been described as “earthly angels” who have earned their wings with their hugs. Most importantly, you will be able to make a pledge as your commitment to the hospice hugging.
You can pre-pledge at maisonsudburyhospice.org (click on donate).
The provincial government only provides 60 per cent of the operating budget; the rest comes from our community. Please share a hug with someone else and ask them to make a pledge. We need to raise $25,000 on July 8 – that’s a lot of hugs.
We need your sharing to help support the hospice’s caring.
Gerry Lougheed is chair of the Hospice Foundation.