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Hospice Society expands programs

Sunday walk to raise funds for locals coping with grief

Distraction is sometimes one of the best remedies for a severe illness, and that is exactly what some of the Hospice Society's newest programs are based upon, as Squamish residents will learn in the upcoming Hospice and Pallative Care Week, from Saturday (May 2) to Saturday (May 9).

Members and volunteers of the three-year-old Squamish Hospice Society hope to raise awareness for the free services and programs available to Squamish locals who are coping with grief, a life-threatening illness, or end-of-life challenges.

Events will include a fundraising walk and a series of informative workshops, on Sunday (May 3) and Tuesday (May 5).

Locals can hear all about the new endeavours during the society's fundraising walk on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. around the Squamish Oceanfront Interpretive Trails.

The walk will be what Giese describes as gentle, and will be co-hosted by Squamish Fire Rescue, who will bring balloons and art materials to entertain the kids. All participants will receive a T-shirt - one that, Giese jokes, will "not only be [worn] when gardening."

The Hospice Society runs almost entirely on volunteers, including the expert staff who run the programs, and funds raised by the May 3 walk go directly to assisting all the programs and services offered. Last year's walk raised $5,000, a feat Giese hopes to replicate this year.

"We just want to advertise our services, who we are, what we can do for people," said Hazel Giese, a director of the Hospice Society's board.

The talks on Tuesday will prove to be the most informative, as they will provide locals with an opportunity to experience what Giese and her colleagues are referring to as 'complimentary therapies'. Reiki, meditation, spiritual connection, and yoga will be featured in a series of 45-minute sessions that will run from noon to 5 p.m. at the Squamish Public Library.

"People can come and go as they please," said Giese, adding she's excited about the new upcoming programs.

Experts in each of the therapeutic fields will be guiding the workshops, and will be available afterwards to answer questions, and offer demonstrations.

Giese believes that the new programs will offer a healthy distraction to locals who have either lost a loved one, or are dealing with a life-threatening illness.

"It's something positive, and helps them relax, helps them exercise," she said. "So often people get a diagnosis and get plunged into a round of x-rays and doctors. This is an opportunity for them to take a break from all that, and do something helpful."

Giese also said that guided meditation in particular has proven to be helpful to patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Giese said she's looking forward to the implementation of the new programs, which offer more than the traditional bedside companionship, or regular support groups. While yoga may seem like a strange solution for someone battling cancer, Giese believes it will help.

"People often seek out alternative therapies," she said. "They're going to Mexico or drinking green tea."

"Bottom line," she said, "hopefully it will make them feel better."

For more information on the current and upcoming services the Squamish Hospice offers, visit

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