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Giving back to St. Joseph's hospice

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Giving back to St. Joseph's hospice

After seeing his father-in-law receive compassionate and considerate care at Sarnia's St. Joseph's Hospice, a local business owner decided to give the hospice a gift that would help future families at the hospice cope with the loss of their loved ones.

Rob Bedard, owner of Al's Vacuum & Sewing Centre, donated a quilt to the hospice on Jan. 25 a quilt that will be used in future farewell ceremonies at St. Joseph's.

Following the death of a resident at the hospice, staff hold a farewell ceremony for the individual and his or her loved ones. The ceremony normally involves the residence's fireplace being lit for 24 hours, a candle lit in honour of the deceased and a farewell quilt placed over the body as it leaves the residence.

Bedard said that the farewell ceremony for his father-in-law was so poignant and inspirational that he decided to enlist a group – including Cathy Cloutier, Wanda Philbin and Jack Stewart – to create a sublime and highly symbolic quilt that can be used in the future.

With two outreached hands releasing butterflies into the sky, the quilt represents a new beginning, Bedard said.

“Butterflies are a symbol of the hospice. When you look up the definition of a butterfly, the butterfly starts in a cocoon, flies away and starts a new beginning. And that's what the farewell ceremony represents here at the hospice – a new beginning,” he said. “And there's also a dove on the quilt, which represents peace.”

“I've actually had several family members, I've known several people who have come through the hospice,” Bedard continued. “We're very, very lucky in Sarnia to have such a facility who do such a great job. It is an excellent thing and I hope this quilt will help people and comfort people during the farewell ceremony, like the ceremony did for me.”

St. Joseph's Hospice fund manager Maria Muscedere said the hospice is very grateful for Bedard's donation.

“It's definitely a generous gift and it's something that I think families will feel someone has their arms around their loved ones as they leave hospice,” she said. “It's a true symbol of what we're about, providing comfort and care here at hospice.”

Getting a gift from one of the hospice's biggest boosters makes it even more special, Muscedere added.

“A lot of those who donate to hospice are true ambassadors, but Rob has always supported us, come out to all our special events out in the community and never thinks twice about being there for us in many ways,” she said. “I just think this quilt is a symbol of what we're about and future families at hospice will be the true recipients of this wonderful gift.”