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Theresa and Lee’s overARCHing mission

Author: Darren Taylor
30 May 2018

It’s a huge understatement to say the staff and volunteers at the Algoma Residential Community Hospice (ARCH) are a special group of people.

A hospice deals with the most serious issue of all, namely, helping terminally ill residents go through the end of life process, but when a person arrives at ARCH as a resident or visitor, one cannot help but be cheered by the way the staff makes you feel, as they radiate genuine smiles, good-natured humour, charm and a sense of fun.

Theresa Mudge, ARCH executive director, and Lee Rendell, ARCH manager of fund development, said they and the rest of the ARCH team (medical, non-medical and approximately 150 dedicated volunteers) try not to put so much emphasis on dying and death, but rather on making life full, enjoyable and comfortable for ARCH residents in their final days just by ‘being there’ and laying on pretty much any type of fun activity a resident may desire.

“Our residents are more than their diagnosed illnesses, they and their families are unique people with unique needs, and it’s our job to make sure we have the funds to be able to provide the quality end of life care for them,” Theresa said.

“We’re not ‘fixers,’” Theresa said, pointing to the inevitability of death, “(but) we’re companions for the residents on their journey. They’re never alone, we care. We try to take the sting out of dying, and create the right conditions, create a peaceful space.”

“There are a lot of amazing relationships we build here with residents and their families…we find laughter and joy and celebrate the moments with those people at the end of their lives,” Lee said.

ARCH, which opened in 2008, has space for 11 end of life residents, and will be soon officially opening a paediatric suite at the hospice, located at 229 Fourth Line West.

“I’ve been at ARCH for six years now, and it’s probably the most important and rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Lee said.

“It’s a really dynamic team here and we all try to help each other. It’s a pretty powerful place to be. I love it,” said Lee, who creatively raises funds through a host of events to pay for the hospice’s daily non-medical operations, as well as getting the facility’s message out there through social media.

ARCH needs over $750,000 annually for its daily, non-medical expenses (medical staff and services are funded by the province).

“All the staff are here because they want to be here,” Lee said. Read more...
See more articles in Community engagement

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