Starry Nights shines bright

Chris Nickless and Brenda Devine are ecstatic that Starry Nights was able to raise $80,000 for palliative care rooms this year. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Chris Nickless and Brenda Devine are ecstatic that Starry Nights was able to raise $80,000 for palliative care rooms this year. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
The 100 Mile and District General Hospital is lit up for Christmas as the South Cariboo Health Foundation launches its seventh annual Starry Nights campaign. The campaign is raising money this year to help 100 Mile House Hospice complete two new “deluxe” palliative care rooms in the hospital for patients with high-level medical needs. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

The community has come through for the South Cariboo Health Foundation, donating $80,000 to this year’s Starry Nights Campaign.

The record-setting donations, which come despite the fact many people have endured hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has left Starry Night’s organizer Brenda Devine and foundation president Chris Nickless both surprised and thankful for the town’s generosity.

“It’s fabulous and a bit unexpected considering the year that we’re in right now. We’re really grateful to all those who donated,” Devine said. “This is probably the most we’ve raised in any one year.”

The money is pledged to go toward completing two new palliative care rooms in 100 Mile District General Hospital’s acute care wing. The 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society partnered with Interior Health to create the much-needed “comfortable and home-like” spaces for palliative care patients with high-level medical needs.

Devine said the foundation is pleased to partner with Hospice and Interior Health to bring the project to fruition. She said the high rate of donations is likely partially attributed to the project itself, as she feels it’s very “near and dear” to people’s hearts. She feels many know the pain of losing a family member and would like to have a comfortable space available for the patients and their families.

Tracy Haddow, the Hospice’s executive director, said it’s uplifting to see so much support. Construction of the palliative care units is just about complete and all the furniture and amenities have been ordered for the room. Some pieces have arrived, although others have been delayed due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Starry nights to light up 100 Mile Hospital Nov. 20

“We’re just waiting for the finishing bits of furniture and equipment,” Haddow said. “I never ceased to be amazed at the generosity of our little community and just what we can accomplish when people come together with a vision to improve our community.”

Nickless said 100 Mile House is a giving community and shows it every year by topping how much money is raised during the Starry Nights campaign. While it’s almost unbelievable at times, he said, he loves seeing it. He said it’s up to the South Cariboo Health Foundation to supply equipment to the hospital because Interior Health has such a huge demand across the region.

“We set a goal of $25,000 for hospice and IH but we never know,” Nickless said. “When we get this kind of response, it goes right back into the community.”

Haddow said both she and hospice have been thankful for the foundation’s continued support over the years. She looks forward to the day the whole community can come together and take in the completed palliative care rooms together.

Two Starry Nights regular donors who contributed this year were Doug and Sandra McCreadie, owners of Rim Rock Ventures Inc. The McCreadies moved to the 108 Mile Ranch from Fort St. John for a slower pace of life and shortly afterward got involved with the foundation. The couple had previously donated to the hospital foundation in Fort St. John.

“It started with a very close friend of ours who simply said to us one Christmas ‘you may not need the hospital foundation or their services now, but one day you will,’” Sandra said. “That stuck so we’ve done our level best to donate ever since.”

In addition to donating to Starry Nights, the McCreadies continue to support the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation. While so far they haven’t needed the services of the hospital, she said it’s nice to know they’ve done what they can while they can.

Devine said any of the money not used for furnishing the palliative care units will go into the hospital in other ways, likely to purchase or replace any equipment the hospital may need. Due to COVID, however, she hasn’t been able to meet with hospital representatives to get their wishlist of items.

Nickless said they owe the community a debt of thanks. “A huge thank you is first and foremost because without the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing.”

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