‘Jessica’s House’ to open in June 2018
Project to move forward with $3 million raised in 16 months
In March 2016, the South Huron Hospital Foundation made a commitment to building a three- bed residential hospice in Exeter.
Last week at Huron County Council, Steering Committee members of ‘ Jessica’s House’ updated the councillors on the progress of the project.
‘ Jessica’s House’ holds a special place in the heart of the South Huron community, as it is named in honour of 22- year- old Jessica Hamather, who lost her life to an extremely rare cancer in 2015.
“So why South Huron? It’s a vibrant, thriving community with the financial and human resources to lead the sustainability of ‘ Jessica’s House’ well into the future. It has a community of thousands of passionate ‘ Jessica’s House’ advocates, donors and volunteers,” stated Kimberly Payne, member of the Steering Committee.
The project has been underway for the last 16 months and already has a little over 3, 000 individual donors for Jessica’s House and has raised $ 3 million to help fund the building of the hospice as well as sustaining into the future.
“We began by creating a Steering Committee and a business plan. Then we proceeded to raise almost $3 million in cash. We have more than that if you count ‘in-kind’ donations. We have a building lot that has been donated in South Huron and we have tremendous Municipal Support,” added Payne.
According to the presentation made to Council, the project received approximately $ 546, 000 in major in- kind donations from area contractors and builders.
The street address has already been assigned, as has building permits and approvals, which has allowed construction to begin, which is already underway.
“All of this progress for ‘ Jessica’s House’ has been successful without asking for a handout, or expecting taxes to rise to help fund and sustain the hospice. All of this was accomplished with the financial support of thousands of individuals and businesses throughout Huron County,” Chair of Steering Committee, Deb Homuth said.
Homuth added that, “the first annual, operating fundraiser event will be held next June”.
According to the information presented to Huron County Council, the hospice will be built, open and operating by Spring 2018. Director of Care and Nursing staff will be hired in the months between now and then, within that time frame.
“One of the reasons that we came here this morning, was to thank you for your letter of support but also, to remind you, that Jessica’s House will be a partner, an advocate and a champion in excellence of residential hospice care, in Huron County,” said Homuth.
‘Jessica’s House’ will be a living classroom, according to Homuth. There is a plan to be partnered with possibly both Western and Fanshawe. Medical students and nursing students could have a placement at ‘Jessica House’ to further understand hospice care.
In addition to all the planning for this project to begin, the Committee for ‘Jessica’s House’ also stated that they understand the work that goes into not only building a hospice, but also operating one successfully well into the future.
“We are taking our sustainability planning very seriously. You cannot just build a hospice and think that somehow magically it will fund itself. It won’t. We understand from our mentors, the other hospice’s in Ontario, that we will need to raise 45 percent to 55 percent of operating costs each year. We don’t want to be a burden, locally or in the County. We are in the process of planning an annual, operating fundraising event,” Homuth explained.
Jessica’sHouse is a remarkable success story, with the fact that within only 16 months, $3 million was raised to support the project.
Warden JimGinn spoke to the presentation and on the project by adding that, “County Council is well aware of the need of hospice care, not just in Huron County, but in all of Ontario. It’s a service we have no had in our area and we certainly need more of them. So, hats off to you for all the work you have done.”