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Powassan family gives big to Nipissing Serenity Hospice

Donations acknowledge ‘the best care possible in a very difficult time’

This past Thursday, donations streamed through the door of the Nipissing Serenity Hospice at 799 John Street, in North Bay.

The parade of supplies came from the Purdon family, who with help from their Powassan friends and neighbours, filled a 20-foot trailer with baking supplies, toiletries, personal care items, and paper products. All much-needed items for the hospice’s residents.

“The level of care, the level of compassion, the amenities were next level,” explained Trista Nodwell, who helped organize the donation drive.  She said that as soon as you walked into the hospice, “you felt like family and knew at that moment that this was the most amazing place to be in at the end of your life.”

See: 'Mission Accomplished' Nipissing Serenity Hospice officially opens

Recently, Trista and her family spent a lot of time at the hospice, as their granny, Pat Purdon, was spending her final days there. She was so well-taken care of by staff, that the family wanted to give back. They learned the hospice ran mostly through donations, so they decided to start collecting some.

Nodwell and her partner both own small businesses in Powassan and their roots run deep through the community. Once they put the word out that they were looking for help with the donation drive, it didn’t take long for help to arrive. Nodwell’s spa business also has a sizable social media audience, which further helped spread the word.

She noted that every year, the family “do some sort of fundraiser for our small town,” and this year, they decided to support the hospice. She put the idea out to her clients on International Women’s Day and told them all about “the wish list.”

This list is posted on Nipissing Serenity Hospice’s website. It contains the items the hospice could use to improve the comfort and care of residents. See, the government helps to fund the hospice, but that money accounts for about 60 per cent of the total annual costs. The rest of the money comes from fundraising, and from private donations, like the one from the Purdon family.

The hospice does not make money from patient stays, as all the hospices’ services are free.

“Of our total budget,” explained Executive Director, Gil Pharand, “about 40 per cent of it isn’t covered, so you’re looking at raising $800,000 a year, every year, to be able to provide our services.” It can be a “challenge,” he admitted, which is why it’s a happy day when a 20-foot trailer rolls up full of donations.

“Our whole purpose was to raise awareness” of the hospice, Nodwell said, “and collect some items off their wish list.” But once the word started spreading around town, “the next thing you know, it blew up.”

“Our shops started piling up” with donations, and soon “the messages and support started rolling in. The comments, the love, the kindness – every single person wanted to help.”

Along with their donations the neighbours also offered their condolences for the family’s loss. Pat Purdon was much loved in town. She was a resident of Powassan for 95 years and will be missed. “She volunteered tirelessly her whole life,” Nodwell said, “especially with the Powassan United Church.”

“Every person that came into our shops had beautiful stories about Pat.”

The community effort, along with filling a twenty-foot trailer with goods, also raised $5,000 for the hospice.

“Your care, kindness and compassion does not go unnoticed,” the Purdon family said of the hospice staff. “Thank you for making our family’s time there so beautiful and thank you for the best care possible in a very difficult time.”

“We know granny is looking down on this and beaming with pride,” Nodwell added. “She was the most beautiful soul, and nothing made her more proud than her kids, grandkids and great grandchildren.”

“We hope she’s enjoying being reunited with her husband Earl and watching the Leafs.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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