$250,000 gift to Hospice Wellington places focus on supports in rural communities

GUELPH – Hospice Wellington announced on June 19 that a special gift from Klara and Oscar Bookbinder’s estate will kick off a three-year pilot project in rural communities.

In honour of the care that they each received in the Hospice Wellington residence during their final days, Klara and Oscar’s estate has committed to invest $250,000 over the next three years.

In keeping with their deep affection for the rural community that welcomed them, their gift will allow the creation of a three-year pilot of the Hospice Wellington Rural Community Programs for the people of Guelph-Eramosa, Wellington County and off-site spaces in Guelph.

Peter Hannam, executor of the Bookbinder estate, stated, “this is a tribute to the friendly, 24-hour, caring atmosphere that Hospice Wellington provided for the Bookbinders.”

The 2018 Rural Wellington Health Advisory Table’s Community Health Needs Assessment identified the rural community’s need and wish for more supports around palliative and grief programming.

The project would seek to serve three groups: individuals who are dealing with their own life-limiting illness, their caregivers and people who are grieving.

As with all Hospice Wellington programs, individuals and families would have complementary access to these programs.

Hospice Wellington officials say they look forward to working with the agencies in the community of Guelph-Eramosa, home to Klara and Oscar, and those within the communities of Wellington County and the City of Guelph.

“The impact of this gift is a monumental step for people dealing with end of life and grief,” officials said in a press release. “It is a shining tribute to the Bookbinder’s life-long example of welcome and inclusion.”

“We are so honoured to partner with the legacy of Klara and Oscar Bookbinder,” said Pat Stuart, Hospice Wellington’s executive director. “It was our privilege to serve them each at the end of their lives. Through their vision of serving others, we will be able to connect with more communities, rural and urban, to deliver programs to people closer to their own homes.”

Stuart added, “The first immediate step will be to connect with those Guelph-Eramosa and Wellington County communities that have already expressed an interest in services and speak to others to assess interest.”

Klara and Oscar emigrated to Canada from their native Hungary. After living in Toronto, they settled in Rockwood, bringing with them a devotion to and a long history of teaching of music to children, both in Toronto and Rockwood.

Their nurturing of young musicians led to both richer lives and, for some, new career paths, officials say.