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Hospice land purchase ensures serenity now, into future

'It is a serene and calming space for those who are dealing with life's most difficult challenges,' Penetanguishene-based group's executive director says
Hopsice Huronia recently purchased this tract of land to ensure it remained tranquil.

Hospice Huronia is looking to the future.

With that firmly in mind, the Penetanguishene-based organization recently purchased adjacent land to ensure those staying at Tomkins House continue to enjoy the fruits of nature.

“Tomkins House was built within an industrial area,” executive director Debbie Kesheshian said.

According to Keshehian, the neighbouring 2.5-acre property is a forest where wildlife regularly meander through to the delight of patients and their visitors.

“Deer, foxes, owls and turkeys are regularly spotted from patient windows,” she says. “It is a serene and calming space for those who are dealing with life's most difficult challenges. Our greatest fear was to lose that natural forest and have it clear cut.”

Kesheshian had built a relationship with hospice’s Fuller Avenue neighbours and when they decided to sell, they gave Hospice first right of refusal.

When all was said and done, Kesheshian says they had the property appraised and were able to acquire it for $650,000.

Kesheshian says the purchase ensures that Hospice Huronia has the solid foundation to continue to care for local residents.

“As land owners, the organization has ensured that however we chose to grow and meet the needs of the community, we have the space to do so,” she says. “It was a prudent decision that will offer so much potential in the coming years."

The organization's board of directors also realized the importance of ensuring Tomkins House remains part of a serene setting.

“Debbie had a strong relationship with our neighbours who own the beautiful, forested area surrounding Tomkins House. When she heard that they were selling the property, the board sprung into action," board chair Donna Macfarlane says. "Our greatest concern was losing the natural beauty surrounding our site and fear that it could be clear cut and paved over."

“This is an investment far greater than the opportunities of nature. This will lay the foundation of a future community hospice centre where grief and bereavement groups can gather. Day programs and respite can be offered and where our community will know that loving arms will wrap around them during life’s most challenging times.”

Since beginning its journey 30 years ago, Hospice Huronia has been on an interesting trek as it cared for the community.

Besides moving into its five-bed home a few years ago, where staff have cared for 350 patients and their families, hospice has always provided a volunteer program along with grief and bereavement support.

“We learned many things during (COVID-19) including the fact that our community is hurting,” Kesheshian said.

“Feelings of isolation, loss of rituals such as celebrations of life, funerals and face-to-face goodbyes has taken its toll. The need for our community programs including grief and bereavement support has skyrocketed and we are ready to care.”

Adds Kesheshian: “We look forward to further community engagement to explore how we can look to the next 30 years of Hospice Care in North Simcoe.”

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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