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Hospice association celebrates 30 years

Founders and first volunteers of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) pose in front of a cake during COHA
Founders and first volunteers of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) pose in front of a cake during COHA's 30th anniversary celebration.
— image credit: Douglas Farrow / Contributor

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association has spent the last 30 years caring for those who know their days are numbered.

Volunteers gathered on Thursday afternoon at The Founders' Tea: An event held at Benvoulin Church to celebrate COHA's 30th anniversary and pay tribute to some of its founding members.

Deborah Ritchie, president of COHA, said that the volunteers have been vital to COHA's success.

"There is nothing more important, at the core of any non-profit organization, than its volunteers," said Ritchie.

"Last year alone our volunteers generously gave close to 22,000 hours. They gave that time to the care and support of those who are in the last days and weeks of their lives and to their families."

Susan Steen, executive director of COHA, said that many of those who were involved with COHA in 1982 are "still involved."

"It's pretty rare. I've been in non-profit for many more years than I care to mention, and this is really unique. It's unique that we've never had to ask for volunteers—they come to us.

"And the quality of the volunteers is unimaginable. They're incredibly skilled, talented and wonderful people."

Steen said that families who are touched by COHA's work often share positive comments about the volunteers. She added that volunteers are also positively affected by the work they do with COHA.

"I think, somehow, it touches the heart," said Steen.

Rolly Hein, the originating chairman for COHA, shared his thoughts about volunteers at Thursday's celebration.

"There's something that is very important. It's more important than our patients, our clients. That is our need to help others. That's what volunteering is, it's a need that's within us: That we have to do something to help others," said Hein.

"When you have that need, you've touched the hand of God."

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan and Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray were also on hand to show their support for COHA.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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