Mill workers show appreciation for former colleague with hospice donation

Rose Garden Hospice board members pose for a photo with Prince Albert Mill Reunion committee member Bill Grosskleg (far left) and Prince Albert Optimist Club treasurer Vince Parker (far right). -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert’s pulp mill may have closed nearly 20 years ago, but its old employees are still giving back in 2023.

On Thursday, members of the Pulp Mill Reunion organizing committee gathered to donate nearly $4,500 towards the Rose Garden Hospice. The donation came from extra funds the reunion committee collected, but didn’t need to pay expenses.

Reunion organizing committee member Bill Grosskleg said supporting the hospice was an easy decision since Rose Daschuk, the hospice’s namesake, worked as a hiring manager at the mill.

“Don (Rose’s husband) worked at the mill and Rose worked at the mill. Actually, Rose hired me all those years ago, so we all knew them both well,” Grosskleg said. “When Rose passed, this cause came up, and we thought it was worth it.

“The connection was huge, and the community is even bigger. We thought that any residual money from the reunion was to be dedicated here, so that’s what we’re here this morning to do, to pass that along and wish these guys well.”

Grosskleg’s father-in-law passed away in a hospice a couple years ago. He said the experience showed just how important hospices can be for the elderly and their families.

Prince Albert’s facility was top notch, he added, and the former pulp mill workers were happy to support the hospice committee.

“That was their goal, to make it (the hospice) like home,” Grosskleg said. “It’s very much like that. I just thank Don and the group for their efforts.”

The reunion committee got an extra boost from the Prince Albert Optimist Club, who volunteered to run the reunion bar, then donated the proceeds to the Rose Garden Hospice too.

Optimist Club treasurer Vince Parker was on hand to present their $1,000 donation. Like Grosskleg, Parker said the facility looks great.

Rose Garden Hospice board members Marina Mitchell (left), and Don Daschuk (centre) accept a cheque from Prince Albert Optimist Club treasurer Vince Parker (right). — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“It’s a beautiful place,” said Parker, who was also a member of the reunion organizing committee. “As Bill was saying, it’s not institutionalized. It’s more like home.”

Although the Rose Garden Hospice board has already hosted a grand opening, there are still more fundraising campaigns on the way.

The Government of Saskatchewan has agreed to cover operating expenses, however price increases since COVID forced the board to take out a mortgage to finish the project.

Don Daschuk, Rose’s husband and a hospice board member, said their construction costs went up by around 25 per cent.

“We tried to cut costs where we could so we had to take a mortgage out,” Daschuk explained. “We’d like to retire that because we really don’t have any income here. The operating (cost) is funded by the government, so we’ve got to come up with some more fundraising ideas.”

Don was among the former pulp mill workers who attended the reunion on Sept. 16. He worked 13 years at the mill, and was glad to see his former co-workers support the hospice.

“It just melts my heart,” he said. “This building is a community initiative to the 10th degree.”