Why do I support Hospice?

Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016 supporters tell us why Hospice is a cause near and dear to their hearts.

Patrick Donohue

Preneed and Estates
Donohue Funeral Home - Gold Sponsor for Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016

Patrick Donohue Patrick Donohue of Donohue Funeral Home sees every day how even simple tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving. His job is to make life a little bit easier for those facing loss—the same outcome we strive for here at St. Joseph’s Hospice. It’s why he recognizes Hospice as a worthy investment for support.

“Hospice provides excellent service and care when people are going through a difficult time,” said Patrick. “It removes all the stressors, which is invaluable.”

Having mourned the loss of both his parents, Patrick understands how it feels to be bereaved. His father, who was a second-generation funeral director, died in 2010.

“I would work full days after my dad died but I was in such a cloud that, by the end of the night, I had barely any recollection of what I did that day,” he said.

Through Patrick’s aftercare assistance, he is able to help people work through their own fog of grief. He helps families with estate work, cancelling bank accounts, insurance policies, and other necessary logistics. He also coordinates pre-arranged funerals while his brother John manages at-need services.

The brothers aim to carry on the legacy of their father and their grandfather, who opened the funeral home in 1930, making it the oldest family-owned and operated funeral establishment in London.

As a community-minded business, they support many charitable organizations in London. Patrick is on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of London, and he and his brother have a tradition of participating in its annual golf trip fundraiser nearly every year after their father attended the very first fundraiser decades ago. They were also gold sponsors for Four Elements for Hospice: FIRE 2015 and have supported Handbags for Hospice.

“We try to give as much as we can,” said Patrick. “In today’s world the need is growing, and we only wish we could give more.”

When Patrick is not busy with his work and volunteer commitments, he spends time with his family and enjoys sports such as golf and squash.

St. Joseph’s Hospice is grateful to Donohue Funeral Home for its generous gold sponsorship of Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016.

Earth-related fun facts with Patrick:

Favourite season:

Flower: Lilies

Favourite outdoor place on Earth: 

Hawaii (Patrick went on his honeymoon to Maui and has also visited the big island with both his wife and kids.)

Favourite outdoor place in London:

Sunningdale Golf Course

   EARTH 2016

Markus and Ann Marie Brunner

President and General Manager of Forest City Pool & Patio Inc.
Hospice supporters and members of the Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016 committee

Markus and Ann Marie Brunner

Markus and Ann Marie Brunner were first introduced to St. Joseph’s Hospice last March when Markus’ mother was transferred to Hospice from the hospital in Sarnia. After a short but painful battle with bone cancer, she was able to spend her last week nearly pain-free in a quiet and peaceful place where her family could be with her all hours of the day. For Markus and Ann Marie, this meant everything. They were driving to Sarnia and back every single day and worrying about her when they couldn’t be there. When they found out a room was available at St. Joseph’s Hospice in London, the whole family knew it would be the right move.

“We felt like we had won the lottery,” said Ann Marie. “We were just so blessed.”

Ann Marie, Markus and his father Martin stayed with her in her hospice suite. They were thankful that they could play her favourite Baroque classical music all day long in the background and be by her side. They were touched by the gentle support of the staff.

“We felt everybody’s kindness and warmth,” said Markus. “It was a very good experience for the family and there was none of the noise and stress of the hospital.”

Markus’ mother spent one week at Hospice before she died on March 13, 2015. Although it was a very difficult time for them, the honour guard ceremony was one of the most memorable moments for Markus and Ann Marie.

“That whole ceremony, and the philosophy behind it is very special,” said Ann Marie. “We had such a wonderful experience that we made a promise to help other families get the same great care we did. And Hospice was so close to our hearts, we thought this was somewhere we could really sink our teeth in—not only with our money but also with our time.”

They went on to walk in the Hike for Hospice in May, and through their business, Forest City Pool & Patio, they sponsored the Wine Wall at Handbags for Hospice in June. They also donated the funds raised at a golf tournament held by the Ontario Western Chapter of the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada to Hospice. They then jumped head-first into the Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016 committee, acting as gold sponsor and working tirelessly to solicit donations for the event.

“Fundraising fills our hearts with joy. After calling someone who has agreed to donate an auction item, their money or time, Markus and I will often look at one another with tears in our eyes.”

This philanthropy is one way Ann Marie and Markus can honour Markus’ mother.

“Her whole life was always about everyone else,” he said. “She was a great humanitarian and was always giving back.”

Her strong heart, integrity and love for people inspired others throughout her illness – qualities that Markus inherited and applies daily to both his fundraising and his business.

For nearly 30 years, Forest City Pool & Patio—which builds pools, patios, retaining walls, decks, cabanas and provides landscaping and swimming pool maintenance—has grown to serve a vast and loyal group of customers in London, many of whom have worked with Markus on charity events of their own.

Ann Marie, who also grew up in the swimming pool industry through her family's distribution business, now works with Markus as the General Manager since 2010.

“The best part of my business is having Ann Marie be a part of it,” said Markus.

The generous couple is looking forward to Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016, especially being among an energetic and charitable crowd who are all there to support Hospice.

St. Joseph’s Hospice is deeply grateful for Markus and Ann Marie’s contributions.

Earth-related fun facts with Ann Marie and Markus:

Favourite season: Both – Summer
Favourite Flower:
Markus – Roses (his mother loved roses)
Ann Marie – Tulips
Favourite outdoor place on earth:
Markus - Boating in Muskoka
or the German Alps
Ann Marie - Muskoka or Arizona
Favourite outdoor place in London:
Markus - In the backyard on a nice sunny day, relaxing with a drink and good company. Just taking the time to soak it all in.
Ann Marie - Springbank Park

Markus and Ann Marie Brunner - Hike for Hospice 2015

At the 2015 Hike for Hospice

Christy Bacik

Chair, Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016 committee
Regional Sales Director, Insurance
Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Sales and Marketing Centre, Southwestern Ontario

Christy Bacik, Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life

London-born Christy Bacik believes in giving back to her community—and her extensive portfolio of volunteer work proves it. She’s lent her talents over the years to the Boys & Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, United Way, and St. Joseph’s Hospice, to name a few.

As the chair of this year’s Four Elements for Hospice: EARTH 2016 committee, she’s leading a team of “passionate, fun, creative and collaborative people who have a real ‘get-it-done’ spirit,”—a necessity for this event.

“It’s going to be a really beautiful and fun social evening, but I’m mostly looking forward to funding Hospice needs,” she said. “It’s support and compassion not only for people at the end of their lives, but crucial ongoing help for people who are bereaved.”

Christy began volunteering with St. Joseph’s Hospice as a committee member on the Four Elements for Hospice: FIRE 2015 committee and stepped into a leadership role this year. But her involvement with hospice care has deeper roots. Both Christy’s father and father-in-law died of cancer, and dealing with such heart-wrenching losses inspired her to help others whose lives are forever affected by losing loved ones. Her commitment to hospice care began while living in Windsor for 12 years, where she volunteered with the Hospice of Windsor. Since then, she always encourages people to arrange a visit to Hospice.

“Anyone who doesn’t know about Hospice should look into it because it’s important to know it’s there when you need it.”

The firm Christy works for—Great-West Life, Canada Life and London Life—also recognizes the importance of supporting hospice care. Through its Stronger Communities Together™ program, the organization is sponsoring St. Joseph's Hospice's three signature events: Four Elements for Hospice, Handbags for Hospice and Hike for Hospice. The sponsorship is one way the companies show their commitment to health, wellness and investing in people and communities across Canada.

It’s this kind-of corporate responsibility and commitment to volunteerism that has helped keep Christy at the organization for nearly 20 years.

“If you earn a decent living, you should give back,” she said. “It strengthens communities and makes you appreciate everything you have so much more: your health, family, friendships…everything.”

Thank you to Christy and to Great-West Life, Canada Life and London Life for your generous ongoing commitment to St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Earth-related fun facts with Christy:

Favourite season:
Summer (“It just edges out Autumn.”)

Flower: Tulips
Favourite outdoor place on Earth: “There are so many to choose from,” said Christy. “But I went to the south of France with my husband last year and just the countryside, the mountains overlooking the blue sea, the colours of the cliffs in Rousillon…it was stunning.”
Runner-up: The view over Lake Huron from Christy’s cottage
Favourite outdoor place in London: Springbank Park – “The hub for so many different beautiful networks and trails.”
    EARTH 2016