Some of you may know that for the past while I’ve been working/volunteering with an organization here in Toronto called the Philip Aziz Centre (PAC). From the website:
Philip Aziz was an art teacher living in Toronto who died of an AIDS related illness in 1991. Due to the stigma related to AIDS he lived alone and isolated with his illness. In the final year of his life Philip found the spiritual, emotional and practical support along with acceptance, faith and love, amidst a caring church community in downtown Toronto. He bequeathed his estate to “Church in the City” with the request that his gift be used to begin a hospice that would offer the same type of unconditional love and support he received, to others living with the challenges of a life-limiting illness. Philip Aziz Centre continues this legacy of love, support and compassion, through trained volunteers and staff who are committed to helping make a difficult life journey more meaningful and manageable for persons facing a life-limiting illness.
My experience with PAC has been varied. For almost a year now I have been volunteering with a particular client, a gentleman living with AIDS. This past summer I was hired and came on staff to help out around the office and get some hands on training in the area of chaplaincy/spiritual care. That was a great experience and I’m still meeting with a young boy from that time. Now that I am back at school I’m down to one day a week with PAC helping them in regards to the next big and exciting step along the way, namely, the opening of Toronto’s first Children’s Hospice.
Currently, families in Toronto have only two options for their sick children, house or hospital. Emily’s House will serve as a middle ground between the two with the comfort of a home environment and all of the medical/technical advancements and professionalism of a children’s hospital. This home will be the first of it’s kind in Toronto and one of six in Canada. Programs will include respite care for family caregivers, acute end of life care, pain and symptom management, transitional care and spiritual, grief and bereavement support.
The new Home will be in the wonderful Governor’s House (Heritage building) at the Don Jail (Broadview/Gerrard). There will be a beautiful addition built on the back of the existing structure to meet the necessary standards. Additionally, the surrounding area will be public park space giving the Home a “house in the park” feel. The Home will be managed by professional staff with round the clock supervision. Check out our recent article in the Toronto Star about Emily’s House!
All in all this will be a fantastic addition to the city of Toronto and a place of beauty and hope in the midst of extremely difficult life circumstances.
And guess what? You can play a part in making this happen!
For the rest of the month of January at 100 LCBO’s across the GTA you can make donations to the Home. So why not take that extra fiver and put it to some good use?!