Hospice receives $20K donation

Malcolm Jenkins and Spark Theatre presented a $20,000 cheque to the Rose Garden Hospice campaign Thursday. Left to right: Ralph Boychuk, Rose Garden Hospice volunteer; Gordon Hein, Rose Garden Hospice board member; Marina Mitchell, Rose Garden Hospice chair; Malcolm Jenkins and Tracy Feher, Spark Theatre chair. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A joint project supported by Spark Theatre and by Malcolm Jenkins netted $20,000 for the Rose Garden Hospice.

During the theatre company’s production of Calendar Girls last weekend, Jenkins pledged to match the amount of money made in ticket sales in a donation to the hospice. It fit well with the show, which told a story about a group of women who shot an ‘alternative’ calendar to raise money for a satie, yet funded thousands to improve an entire wing of a hospital after one of the character’s husbands died of cancer.

Thursday, Spark Theatre chair Tracy Feher and Jenkins presented the Rose Garden Hospice with the $20,000 donation.

“It was amazing,” Marina Mitchell, Rose Garden Hospice chair said.

“It was a full house every night, all three shows. There are still people who don’t know about the hospice and don’t know what a hospice is, so it was great exposure for us. The story of the show really played well with our goal and the idea of the hospice.”

In addition to matching the ticket sales in a donation to the hospice, Jenkins came out before every show to tell the audience about what the hospice is and why it’s important. Mitchell and other volunteers also had a table set up in the E.A. Rawlinson Centre with brochures, pamphlets, pictures and information about the hospice.

“We had a lot of interest,” she said.

Generating that interest was one of the reasons Jenkins did what he did.

While he’s been one of the strongest advocates for the Rose Garden Hospice for some time, he saw the show as an opportunity to spread the word even further.

“Now there are 1,400 people who know about it, he said.

‘For me to stand on the top of my store and shout ‘we need a hospice,’ you have to tell people one at a time. To be able to tack the hospice message onto that show, it immediately became where people could see the logic of it.”

The added attention around the hospice also contributed to the large audience, which meant a great atmosphere for the Spark actors.

Feher, who also co-starred in the show, playing Annie. It’s Annie’s husband who dies of cancer, sparking the women’s fundraising efforts.

‘All of us are over the moon at the support that folks in PA. provided to both the theatre and the Rose Garden Hospice,” she said.

“We couldn’t be happier with the turnout of people, with the response that we had. We got to play in front of a full house three nights in a row and Malcolm Jenkins wrote a $20,000 cheque. This was such a win-win situation.”

“Folks responded beautifully,” Jenkins added.

“We had over 1,200 people come to the show, and it just cost me 20,000 bucks. I don’t know how happy I should be, but what the heck it’s a great cause.

“I’m a big fan of the hospice. In England, there are 200,000 people n hospices right now. It’s an established institution and it takes the heat off of hospitals.”

A hospice is a facility designed to provide end-of-life care in a comfortable, home-like setting. It provides more comfortable care than a hospital while also freeing up beds.

The Rose Garden Hospice is currently in the midst of raising $4 million for construction of the hospice. Jenkins’ donation of $20,000 is in addition to his pledge of $500,000 made in February.

The hospice is expected to begin operations in 2021. The province has pledged $2 million per year beginning in 2021 to fund the facility’s operating budget.

The next fundraiser for the hospice is the annual walkathon, Hike for Hospice, set for May.

For more information on the hospice or to donate, visit rosegardenhospice.ca or call 306-764-ROSE.