History of the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society
The origins of the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society trace back to a community meeting initiated by First United Church in 1981. The impetus for the meeting related to the unmet needs of people in the community requiring palliative care. This first meeting evolved into a grass roots movement led by Teresa Hotell the Society’s founder and first Executive Director. This group moved forward quickly and in August 1982 the White Rock Hospice Society was incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia.
The early years were highlighted by volunteers providing their time and resources to ensure the Society achieved its mandate of providing support to palliative clients and their families and to educating the community about the hospice movement. The first hospice volunteers were trained by the Pastoral institute of British Columbia.
Peace Arch Community Services provided the first formal office space and some early funding support came from the United Way. By 1985, the Society’s trained volunteers were providing support to clients at Peace Arch Hospital, in care facilities in the community, and in private homes. During this period, the Society’s services were extended to provide professional counseling and grief support to individuals and families.
In the latter of half of the 1980s, the Society continued to grow locally and played an integral role in the development of a palliative care unit at Peace Arch Hospital. During this period, the Society also played a leading role in the establishment of the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association and had representation on the board of the BC Bereavement Foundation. By the end of the decade, the Society had a small paid staff and a vibrant volunteer group that needed more space in order to meet the community needs for hospice palliative care services and grief support programs.
In 1992 the Society purchased the home it currently occupies on Russell Avenue in White Rock. This residence was converted to office and multipurpose meeting room/program space and continues to this day to be known in the community as the Hospice House. Though generous bequests from supporters during the 1990s the Society was able to purchase the residence immediately to the west of Hospice House and it has been used as a source of rental income over the years. Throughout the balance of the decade and into the current century the Society’s base of volunteers continued to grow and now numbers over 200. Volunteers include those directly serving clients and those who provide clerical and fundraising services amongst a myriad of other opportunities that present themselves.
As the Society approached its 20th anniversary in 2002, the provincial government created the Fraser Health Authority and soon there was a commitment to develop hospice beds in every community within Fraser Health. It was now clear that the Society would have the support of the Health Authority to reach its long held dream of creating a Hospice Residence, but to achieve this goal work had to be done to improve financial self sufficiency and strengthen every facet of the organization.
By 2006 plans were in place to develop the Hospice Society Thrift Store, which is now an example of what can be accomplished when hard work supports an achievable goal. Since it opened its doors to the public in February 2008, the Thrift Store has generated ever increasing sales, and by the end of the decade it was contributing 13% of the Society's gross revenue.
In 2007 the Society began planning for a Hospice Residence in White Rock, however, the worldwide financial crisis that occurred in 2008 served to delay this project from moving ahead as quickly as it might have otherwise. While this was disappointing, it provided the Society with an opportunity to revisit the assumptions on which the project was based and to review the strategies intended to bring the project to completion. Through this period, the need for the Society to have appropriate space from which to deliver existing programs and to develop new programs became a primary objective.
The Society's volunteer and client base continued to grow throughout the decade and during the two year period ending in 2009 the Society's volunteer base increased by 32%. The new resources of people and money allowed for significant growth of existing programs and the development of many new programs to meet the demand of a vibrant and growing community.
In 2009 the Society reviewed and renewed it Mission, Vision and Values statements, revised its constitution and bylaws, and developed a 3-year strategic plan. Subsequently a communication plan was launched that included the development of a new website and a print media campaign to create awareness and educate the community about hospice palliative care.
In 2010 the Society formalized a plan for board development and intentionally recruited new Board ill the desired skills and abilities that had been identified a s necessary to continue the Society's growth. The Governance model was modified and governance policies were developed that clearly identified and differentiated the roles and responsibilities of the Board and Executive Director.
The Society's name was changed in 2010 to include reference to the South Surrey Community which had been serve the the Society since its inception in 1982. The staff directed fundraising efforts and the recruitment of 3rd party and corporate sponsorships resulted in significant growth in revenue. This growth, combined with the continued success of the Thrift Store, resulted in the Society's earned revenue representing 71% of gross revenue by the end of fiscal 2011 compared to 54% at the end of fiscal 2009.
Two major projects are on the horizon as the Society looks ahead to its 30th anniversary in 2012. The first project related to the planning and selection of new expanded space for the Thrift Store, which has outgrown its current space which is leased until the end of 2012. The continued growth of this operation is essential for the Society's long term financial security and independence.
The second project relates to a new expanded Supportive Care Centre and Hospice Residence. In late 2010 Fraser Health planning staff and their consultants began to work with community stakeholders to prepare a master concept site plan for the Peace Arch Hospital lands. During this exercise the Society was given a opportunity to provide Fraser Health with its planning objectives and functional requirements for the proposed Hospice Residence and Supportive Care Centre. At a meeting with Fraser Health staff in the fall of 2011, the Society was advised that Fraser Health is committed to providing a site located in the south-east corner of the Peach Arch Hospital lands for the development of these facilities. Once the approvals are in place and the land-lease negotiations are completed, the Society will finalize building plans and commence to plan for a capital campaign to raise the funds needed to complete this project. The Society is looking forward to being actively involved in bringing this important project to fruition as it will be a major step toward achieving our vision that all residents of the Semiahmoo Peninsula have the support they need as they face advanced illness and bereavement.
Volunteers are the heart of the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society, and programs continue to grow as the number of trained client volunteers increases. At the end of fiscal 2011, the Society had 132 volunteers in this category who collectively gave approximately 9,500 hours of volunteer time in the last year. Another 74 volunteers, classified as Friends of Hospice, supported the Society's fundraising and administrative functions with 5, 346 hours of volunteer time. Last, but certainly not least, are the 120 Thrift Store volunteers who in the last year contributed 15,860 hours of volunteer time. In total, 326 volunteers gave 30,658 hours of volunteer time in our last fiscal year.