COVID-19 hasn’t only slowed down business in the region.
The illness caused by the novel coronavirus has also slowed down fundraising efforts aimed at building the Rose Garden Hospice, a $4-million project to provide end-of-life hospice care for residents in need.
Thursday, though, a local dignitary stepped up with $10,000 of his own money to contribute to the cause.
Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave and his wife Fran had been wanting to donate for a while. Now seemed like the right time.
“My wife and I are big supporters of the hospice,” Hargrave said following a socially-distanced donation presentation Thursday.
“Even though times are tough right now, we wanted to make sure that people were still aware that this is still a need in our city. This is going to be a need and we want this to continue.”
Hargrave said he wanted to send a message to other people who can that this cause still needs support, even during this difficult time.
“It’s really tough, but there are still people out there — if you can, find it within yourself to make this donation. This is a very important thing for our city,” he said.
“The Rose Garden Hospice will be an incredible facility for people and our families that are going to be struggling in the future. We’re very pleased this is coming along (with) the good work Ralph (Boychuk) and Marina (Mitchell) have been doing.”
While Hargrave always planned to make a donation to the cause, he was prompted in part by the 1.7 per cent automatic pay increase MLAs received on April 1.
Premier Scott Moe donated his pay increase to the Prince Albert Food Bank and Mobile Crisis.
Moe challenged other MLAs to do the same.
“I committed a couple of weeks ago, when our automatic salary boost went through at government, that I would donate all that money to a worthy cause and this is a very worthy cause,” Hargrave said.
“That’s partially (why the donation was made), We were going to do it anyways, but this worked out very well timing-wise to us. We were always going to make a donation to the hospice because it is very important to us. I have been working very closely with the committee on the hospice.”
Hargrave has helped out the cause previously in his official capacity. He announced last year that the province would be stepping up to provide operational funding for the hospice once it’s constructed.
The hospice committee credited that announcement to Hargrave’s advocacy.
As for when the construction will be complete, the pandemic might push those plans back a few months.
“We’re not quite there,” said Boychuk, who’s on the fundraising board.
“We had original plans to be shovels in the ground in the springtime, but the situation we’re involved in with COVID-19 slowed our progress down.”
He credited donations like Hargrave’s with keeping momentum going.
“We’ve got some other announcements to make too, so we have hope we can maybe get this going this spring, this summer. That’s our drive, that’s our goal.”
It comes down to a matter of funds Boychuk said they’d like to have $3 million committed before they start construction.
Right now, they’re at the $2.3-million mark.
One way the pandemic has affected them has been by making it more difficult to meet with potential donors.
“It’s tough to meet somebody face-to-face,” Boychuk said.
“We’ve had some approvals in the background of some things we’ve been working on, so we’re really happy about that. But we’d like to meet some people face-to-face we’ve not been able to get in front of lately.”
Some opportunities will arise as the project goes out to tender.
The hope is some contractors will be able to provide donations, whether they’re in-kind or financial contributions or both.
Hargrave is confident the project will be ready for shovels soon.
“I can’t wait for that to happen,” he said.
“I want to see construction start. I’m very optimistic that once the white stuff goes away we can get shovels in the ground and get this thing started.”