Our Historydscn2548

Plaque Speech by Laurine Kelly

Even though it is not quite bedtime I am going to read you a story.


Once upon a time a little girl lost her young brother in a drowning accident.  Her feelings were confusing and nobody talked about them.  That little girl matured.  As a very young adult she lost her father to cancer and watched his suffering with pain and symptoms not well managed.  Her feelings were deeply sad and nobody talked about them.

The young adult became a young woman, married the love of her life and became the mother of two beautiful children; love grew all around and life was good although the memories of suffering and loss and the silence surrounding them endured.

The woman’s children grew to explore their independence and there was time to spare.  The remembered silence from her early losses led her to wonder why nobody talked about the feelings of grief and loss and how people in our community were not being cared for adequately when living with cancer or those who were dying.

This woman began to think that care advocacy and education should be available to all and especially to her community.  The notion of an organization that could do this was budding.

A call to arms in the guise of a newspaper ad and subsequent meetings in the woman’s living room heralded the incorporation of the Delta Hospice Society in July of 1991.  Within a year 15 trained client volunteers were providing community outreach services.

Early on, a lack of funding almost crippled the society.  A generous gift from the Delta Agricultural Society provided a breathing space; however, the need to develop sustainable funding for operations was clear.  The woman thought that perhaps a thrift store could help solve this challenge.

The Society opened a thrift store a single store front that grew within 3 months to encompass another.   It was soon obvious that the growing number of store volunteers and the generous donations from our community required a much larger location.

Adversity was voiced about the store’s move to its current location.  People said it was too far away from the mall and no one would come.  Now named the Delta Hospice Cottage Charity Shoppe the shoppe’s name emphasizes its goal to raise funds for a charitable organization.

During this time it became clear that the community’s need for services could not be met in or from the Society’s first small rented space.  A move to the Tsawwassen Professional Building provided more room for client services.  Not too much later an adjacent space was remodeled to include a large group room with a fireplace and the first space for Expressive Arts Therapy making bereavement services more amenable for children and teens.

The community’s need for medical services continued to grow and development of Fraser Health’s palliative care program required palliative patients from Delta to be admitted to Surrey, White Rock, or even further afield.

Thus began an astounding lobby, by that same woman, to develop a campus of care here in Delta for and supportive, palliative and bereavement services.  The Premier, MLAs, and Fraser Health all demurred.  The community was on its own.

Over time, lobbying moved Fraser Health from “You won’t be able to run the hospice; you are not a nurse” to “You won’t be able to find nurses to work there” to supporting their plan for a 10 bed residence, rather than 6 proposed by Delta Hospice, and agreeing to lease land to the Society.

Finally, Fraser Health agreed that it would contract annually with the Society to fund costs for the necessary nursing, kitchen, and housekeeping staff.  All other costs were to be shouldered by the Society; a seemingly overwhelming obligation.

A client volunteer asked “Where will the money come from” and was answered by another who said “From where it is now.”  That is faith.

I believe it was faith that allowed one very determined woman to continue on, working with the community’s families and businesses to find where that money was while taking on the demanding role of project manager throughout construction of the Delta Hospice campus of care.

This is a true story.

Although this story may sound simple, there have been a myriad of other achievements along with regular and seemingly impossible challenges.  Nay sayers may abound, however, this story illustrates that if you think something is impossible, step out of the way of those who are achieving it.

Of course this could not have been achieved without each of you and many, many others who, over the past 25 years, have contributed time, skills, and gifts to this incredible journey.  To each and every one of you, thank you for holding hospice in your heart.

The journey I have sketched for you came to a significant place about six years ago with the opening of the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care and the Irene Thomas Hospice.  This afternoon we are honouring the woman who has lead us all to this place.

Thank you Nancy.



Delta Hospice Society History



The Delta Hospice Society developed out of a need to support families coping with the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness and those who are bereaved.


1991     Incorporation of the Delta Hospice Society

  • The Society was incorporated in July 1991 in the province of British Columbia as a non-profit, community-based organization.
  • The Society was registered with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a registered charity with the ability to issue official tax receipts for the donation of eligible gifts to the Society.



  • The first volunteer training was held in the winter of 1992.
  • Policies were developed and direct service to families began in the spring.
  • Initially the program had 15 volunteers and focused on home and hospital visiting and twice-yearly training programs for new volunteers.
  • The first Celebrate a Life campaign was held at Christmas.



  • The Delta Community Hospice Foundation was created to raise and administer funds to support the work of the Delta Hospice Society.
  • The first Celebration of Trees corporate fundraising event was held at the Municipal Hall.



  • The first annual Garden Tour was held to raise money for hospice. This was a partnership between the Evergreen Garden Club and Delta Hospice.



  • The Hospice Cottage Thrift Store was opened 5 days a week in the spring of 1998 and became a source of ongoing operating funds for the Society.



  • The office changed to a resource centre and re-located as the Delta Hospice Centre in the Tsawwassen Professional Building, providing better access and visibility and more space for outreach programs.



  • The Hospice Centre expanded its space to accommodate its growing outreach community-based programs. It became the Delta Hospice Care Centre.



  • The Society presented a proposal to Fraser Health for a Family Centre for Hospice Care.
  • A service contract was negotiated between Fraser Health and the Society for a .6 FTE counselling position.
  • The Hospice Cottage Thrift Store added two evenings a week to its open schedule.



  • Delta Hospice was chosen as one of 11 sites in Canada to pilot the draft Hospice Palliative Care Standards for the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA).



  • Delta Hospice was awarded accreditation from the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA); its name has since been changed to Accreditation Canada.



  • Delta Hospice was successful in signing a letter of intent with Fraser Health to build a 10-suite Hospice and Centre for Supportive Care on leased land adjacent to Delta Hospital. This integrated model of care was unique to British Columbia.  The agreement included the Society as the operator of both facilities and operational funding for the Hospice from Fraser Health.  Architectural plans for both buildings were completed, and the Delta Cares Capital Campaign began in September.



  • With the detailed plans for the Society’s capital project complete, fundraising for the capital campaign for $8.5 million was the focus.
  • Major Robert’s Bank business corporations and their business partners made cornerstone gifts totaling just over $1 million.
  • In October, $5.5 million had been raised and a decision was made to build both facilities at the same time. Construction began in November.



  • Construction of the Centre for Supportive Care was completed in October and the Society moved to its new location November 1st. Substantial completion of the Hospice was reached mid- December.



  • In 2010 Delta Hospice contracted with Fraser Health for operating funds for the Irene Thomas Hospice making Delta Hospice accountable to Fraser Health and its accreditation standards; allowing Delta Hospice to discontinue its independent accreditation.
  • The official opening and ceremony was held in January and the first patients were admitted to the Hospice on the 16th of February. The shortfall in fundraising was approximately $900,000.

Grand Opening of the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care and the Irene Thomas Hospice


  • In the first year of operation the Hospice served 140 residents, their families and their friends. The Centre for Supportive Care had more than 6,000 people visit and more than 11,000 phone calls.



  • A Music Therapy program for clients began. Staff, volunteer, and client education options grew significantly with the in-house development and introduction of spirituality, mindfulness, therapeutic touch learning sessions and introduction of complementary therapies.
  • The Thrift Store was renamed the Delta Hospice Cottage ‘Charity Shoppe’ to reflect that Delta Hospice was a charity and not a ‘for-profit’ organization, as well as to reflect the high quality and value of many donated items.



  • Emphasis was on Organizational Accountability through reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of Programs and Services in providing client service.



  • Pledges to the capital project were fulfilled.
  • All debt incurred during the capital project was paid off.


2015, 2016

  • The 2015 and 2016 years were a time to reflect on the rapid growth in the organization which grew in 2010 from 9 employees to 69 employees and the responsibility of operating a 24/7, 365 days a year medical facility. This change impacted the financial and human resource obligations of the Society.
  • To sustain the Society’s level of excellence, a new leadership position of Directors of Operations was created, and a robust pool of casual staff was developed for Hospice positions.



  • A year of transition in that several long-term Care Centre staff chose to retire, and one chose to resign.
  • The Counselling Team was replenished, and an Administrative Coordinator position created to assist with operational needs at all three of the Society’s locations.