Port Alberni’s Ty Watson House has received a $20,000 donation from the non-profit business Pot Luck Ceramics to pay hospice staff and go towards kitchen operations for the financial year.
In addition to more than 50 volunteers, Ty Watson House has two paid kitchen staff. The money helps pay their salaries as well as goes towards cooking Ty Watson residents and their families nice meals and looking after special dietary needs.
“[The donation] allows us to not serve institutional food,” said Chris Mellin, hospice house manager. “It allows us to help the people that are there to the best that we can, especially at the end of their lives.”
Mellin said often times residents will have requests like steak and lobster.
“We always tell somebody when they come in that if you have something that you really want, let us know, and probably more than 80 per cent of the time they do tell us,” Mellin said.
Without the donation, Mellin said offering good quality meals to hospice residents would probably not be possible.
“We go through hundreds of cookies in that house, it never ends,” Mellin said. “That’s the kind of thing that we can do. If we didn’t have this we wouldn’t be doing that. That house is so unique and this kind of money just gives it that extra little push.”
Since 2012, Pot Luck Ceramics has donated $121,000 to the Ty Watson House.
Pot Luck Ceramics, which operates out of an old home at 4473 Gertrude St., is owned and operated by the Port Alberni Fundraising Coop. The coop is a community service coop with non-profit status which means that coop members don’t receive any dividend or any other financial benefit from the coop’s revenue. They dedicate the profits from their sales of terracotta ceramics to quality of life services in the Alberni Valley. The fundraising model “profit for non-profit” is the first and only coop fundraising model of its kind in Canada.
“The best thing about volunteering at Pot Luck Ceramics is we get to thank the people working for hospice and in Ty Watson house, not only working as staff but working on top of that as awesome volunteers,” said Helma Swinkels, Pot Luck Ceramics founder.
When Ty Watson House opened its doors in 2008, Swinkels was a hospice volunteer in charge of the kitchen. She said she remembers residents wanting to eat their meals in the kitchen rather than the comfortable dining ares.
The kitchen, she said, provides the comforting atmosphere of a normal household, and that’s what Ty Watson House wants to provide its residents, and their families.