Community members can help the Aroostook House of Comfort in Presque Isle launch a new fundraising event this weekend.
The first Walk for Hospice is planned Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle.
The six-suite House of Comfort is the only inpatient hospice home north of Lewiston. Funds raised will help the home serve more families whose loved ones need end-of-life care, said Abbey Clair, executive director of Aroostook Hospice Foundation, which owns the facility.
The event has already raised about $10,000 through sponsorships, raffle tickets and registration fees, she said. So far, 100 people have signed up.
“We’re very pleased with that turnout given that it’s our first event like this,” Clair said. “There’s a lot going on, and I’m really thankful that people have chosen us to give their support to.”
The foundation formed in 2009 and worked for nine years to bring the Aroostook House of Comfort into existence. The 9,800-square-foot facility opened in 2018.
For 10 years, its largest fundraiser has been the annual House of Comfort Golf Classic, Clair said. People also purchase stones in memory of loved ones for Remembrance Way, a garden area on the grounds.
But organizers wanted to create something new that could include people of all ages and abilities, she said.
Many participants and groups are walking in memory of someone who received hospice care. Clair believes the event will build connections between people who have experienced the House of Comfort.
The Aroostook Hospice Foundation owns the facility and pays for maintenance and operation. Its only income comes from donations and fundraisers, Clair said. Northern Light Home Care and Hospice provides the staff and clinical care.
Based in South Portland, Northern Light Home Care and Hospice maintains other sites in Bangor, Waterville and Ellsworth. Staff provide home visits, palliative care, telehealth and emergency response, among other services.
“We’re responsible for the facility, but we couldn’t do this work without the incredible care provided by the Northern Light Hospice team,” Clair said. “They’re a huge part of us being able to serve The County in this way.”
Participants can register up to the day of the event.
The Walk for Hospice will start at 9 a.m. on Sept. 9 with a welcome and check-in. An opening ceremony will kick off the walk at 10 a.m. Activities will conclude around 12:30 p.m. with prizes given for the most money raised by an individual and by a group. The winning ticket will be drawn in a raffle for a pizza oven and accessories.
A memorial wreath will also be on display. Participants can write the names of people they are walking for on ribbons, which will be attached to the wreath.
Clair hopes to turn the walk into a yearly event.
“To me, when we see these events being successful, it feels like the community is demonstrating that they, too feel responsible to ensure that this facility is here for
Aroostook County,” she said.