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Updated: Hospice butterfly release gives loved ones 'closure and hope'

2019 edition of event raised more than $28,500 for Maison McCulloch Hospice

Maison McCulloch Hospice hosted its annual butterfly release at Science North Sunday, raising more than $28,500 toward costs associated with operation of the end-of-life care facility. 

This year's fundraiser was a bit more successful than those in the past, said Ashley Pawlowicz, director of the Sudbury Hospice Foundation, thanks in part to a $10,000 donation from the Sudbury Police Association. An increase in attendance also helped bump up the final total she said, which she credits to more people finding out about the hospice and its role in the community. 

This is one of three major fundraisers hosted by the hospice annually to cover the cost of operation, which requires a minimum contribution of $1 million annually. Aside from that, Pawlowicz said it is considered a really important day for people to celebrate the memory of their loved ones alongside their friends and family. 

More than 400 community members participated in the celebration of life Sunday, including Caroline Grist, whose mother passed away from Lung Cancer July 22, 2018, at Maison McCulloch Hospice. Diagnosed in November 2017, Grist said her mother's journey with cancer was a trying one, "but she kept a positive attitude all the way through," thanks in part to those at Maison McCulloch Hospice. 

"The hospice was the best place she could have been - they were so caring, so attentive, anything she wanted they were there for her," said Grist. "They were so attentive to the family members too – if we needed a break or a shoulder to cry on once and a while, they were there for family too."

This was the first butterfly release ceremony hosted since her mother's passing, but Grist said she plans to attend in future years to honour her mother and share the story of her life. 

"(The event) helps gives closure and hope at the same time," said Lyle Foreshew, acting executive director for Maison McCulloch Hospice. It helps them address their sorrow and grief, but at the same time, find hope, faith and security seeing a butterfly born into a new life, he said. 

This is similar to the experience one can expect at the hospice, based on discussion with Foreshew and guests in attendance, who see the care centre as a place to address your pain and encourage your healing. 

"The hospice provides that environment for people to get the medical, emotional and spiritual support they need, (while) at the same time, allowing them to be with their families," said Foreshew. "(It is important that people get to) enjoy those days and the moments they have and not feel like their in the confines of a medical institution."

Maison McCulloch Hospice offers residential care for individuals seeking long-term support, temporary lodging for those seeking a place to rest while their family members and/or caregivers are away, as well as short-term support for those with a terminal illness. As a non-profit, charitable organization, these services are offered free of charge to patients.

Financial support is obtained through various means, including the annual butterfly release, but supported primarily by the North East Local Health Integration Network. 

To expand their care capacity, Maison McCulloch Hospice is currently undergoing a significant renovation which will expand their facility by 16,000 square feet and add 10 new beds. Four of these beds have been designed for long-term, palliative care, one of which for children. The remaining six are respite beds, used for short-term stays. 

Foreshew said construction should be completed by February of next year, but this is subject to change. "Once that's operational, then we can start working towards increasing services to our public," he said.

Learn more about the Maison McCulloch Hospice here.

Watch the opening ceremony in the video below. 

Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada, at
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