Well into January 5,000 lights illuminated the 50-foot Garry oak tree next to the Richmond Pavilion at Jubilee hospital. Lit in December, it was part of Victoria Hospice’s Celebrate a Life event, an annual holiday tradition to honour and celebrate the lives of those loved and lost.
The Victoria Hospice Society is a not-for-profit agency with roughly 100 full and part-time staff and 400 volunteers and an annual budget of just over $7 million dollars. They go about the difficult work of caring for more than 1,000 patients a year facing a “life limiting illness” with compassion and comfort. About half are in-home care while the other half are cared for in the 17-bed in-patient unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
About half the society’s annual funding comes from the local health authority and half from the generous donations of the community. Some make annual donations, others gift funds upon death, Uplands resident David Black (Black Press owner) found a way to give back to the cause that touched his life. When filming crews cast his Oak Bay home in a film, the fees go toward Victoria Hospice.
“We’ve got to help pay for it, so this is one simple way of doing it. I know the cast and crew are keen to do it too. They like the thought of giving back,” Black says. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could start a bit of a tradition, that if you don’t really need the money, then let’s have it go to a great charity, like Victoria Hospice.”
For those who don’t have film crews knocking at the door, take in another rapidly growing tradition, the 7th annual Hike for Hospice on May 6. The 7th annual scenic 3.5 km loop takes walkers from the Inner Harbour to the ocean and back again raising critical funds and awareness for Victoria Hospice. The route is accessible for all ages and abilities and participants are invited to honour the memory of a loved one.
While there won’t be any bright lights – either twinkling on trees or highlighting an impressive Garry oak – there’s another Oak Bay favourite at this event. Four legged friends are welcome and there’s even a prize for the Best Dressed Dog.