Langley’s Roberta Higgs’ is gearing up to participate in the 10 kilometer portion of the Langley Hospice Society’s Historic Half Marathon that takes place throughout Fort Langley on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Higgs’ is a committed volunteer at the Hospice Society, but she admits it took her awhile to come around after her husband Patrick passed away in the hospice in 2011.
“After my husband died, I came for counselling here,” explained Higgs.
One of the counsellors suggested Higgs might enjoy volunteering at the Langley Hospice’s Second Story Treasures thrift store in Walnut Grove and Higgs said, “she was right.”
“I do two days there. It’s been quite the life line.”
Higgs, who moved to Langley in 2010 after living in North Vancouver, is passionate about her volunteer work at the Hospice because she’s “been through the process.”
“To be honest, it was a long time before I was able to go back to the [hospice] residence, but I find it’s a really helpful process.”
After eight years of volunteering, Higgs took the palliative care course – a 30 hour, ten-week course – last spring, and joined the hospice’s palliative care volunteer team, helping once a week with residents.
Higgs’ said she had a positive experience while Patrick was in hospice care for five days, and saw the volunteer work as an “opportunity to make things easier,” for others going through similar situations.
“I’m not necessary sharing my story with them [hospice residents], because it’s their own story, but I really just want to give back,” she added.
While volunteering with the palliative care team, Higgs provides companionship, support, and does tasks to make things easier for patients such as prepare tea, and have conversations.
“It changes all the time. The opportunity presents itself each time. Sometimes patients are more vocal or there’s a lot of family. Sometimes it’s just the comfort and support and whatever else is required to make it easier and better for them,” elaborated Higgs.
Shannon Todd Booth, Langley Hospice Society’s communications and funds development manager, explained volunteers help out in every area of the hospice.
“We have between 210 and 240 volunteers. They give us more than 35,000 hours per year, so there isn’t anything we do that isn’t touched by volunteers. I firmly believe we have the best volunteers out there.”
According to Todd Booth, this is the third year the Langley Hospice has been the charity partner of the Historic Half Marathon, which is going into its 14th year.
“It raised about $5,000 last year. It’s been a good experience for us,” said Todd Booth.
Todd Booth added this year’s fundraiser is aimed at raising money for the supportive programs centre and bereavement and grief services at the hospice.
“We’re seeing increased numbers of referrals and want to continue with client-centered, innovative, and relevant programming and support,” she added.
Todd Booth explained there is no definitive date for when the construction of the new 15-bed stand-alone hospice residence will start, although she hopes to provide more news soon.
“We have some exciting things happening in 2019,” she added.
New this year at the Historic Half is a by-donation pancake breakfast, coffee, and, tea that is being prepared by the Township of Langley Firefighters’ Charities.
On Sunday, Feb. 17, the half marathon is scheduled to start around 9 a.m., and runs for three hours.
The 5 and 10 km run is set to start between 9-9:15 a.m.
A mass warm-up begins at 8:45 a.m.
Racers can enter through the gate in the Fort Wall on the west side of the Fort at 23433 Mavis Ave.
The kids run goes from noon to 1 p.m. inside the gates of the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
More information and registration for the Historic Half can be found online: http://www.tryevents.ca/try_events_fort_langley_historic_half_marathon.htm