Pot of gold for hospice

Pot Luck Ceramics donates largest cheque yet to Ty Watson House.

Helma Swinkels

Pot Luck Ceramics has donated $30,000 to the Ty Watson House hospice—enough to pay all the kitchen staff wages, says hospice house manager Chris Mellin.

This is Pot Luck Ceramics’ largest donation yet to the hospice—it has donated $110,000 to both the hospice and the Better At Home program since 2012, says its founder, Helma Swinkels.

Pot Luck Ceramics operates under the Port Alberni Fundraising Coop, which has not-for-profit status. This means coop members don’t receive any dividend or other financial benefit, but the coop creates revenue through their business—a ceramic store located on Gertrude Street that sells ceramic cookware imported from Spain.

When Ty Watson House opened in February 2008, in a barn on Cowley Road, Swinkels—then a hospice volunteer—was in charge of the kitchen.

“I still remember that very first day when the first residents were coming in,” Swinkels recalled.

“We asked the residents where they would like to eat and everyone said ‘the kitchen’. The kitchen is the heart of the home.”

Jan Cole, chair of the AV Hospice Society, agrees.

“The kitchen is very important to the integrity of the society,” says its chair, Jan Cole. “It makes us different than an institution.”

People who have moved to the hospice may have different dietary needs, Swinkels said—they are at the end of their life, and they may only be able to eat certain foods. And maybe they’d like to have a beer with dinner, or a steak once in a while.

“Because of the circumstances of them being here, it’s comforting,” Mellin said of the kitchen and the way the kitchen is run at Ty Watson house. “It’s comforting.”

Every kind of event is celebrated, many of the activities happening in the kitchen. Favourite foods are requested and received. It is a joyful place despite the sober circumstances.

Mellin’s husband Ben spent a year at Ty Watson House—an unusual circumstance, due to the nature of his illness—so as house manager she sees the hospice from a different perspective.

“When I was here with Ben, things just seemed to happen. Now I’m on the other side and holy moley, the work that goes into these things; I had no concept,” Mellin said.

“I know now what it takes to run this house and it’s so amazing.”

Ty Watson House opened in 2008 and has four beds. There are 49 volunteers who work in the kitchen.

Pot Luck Ceramics also relies on volunteers to keep the doors to its Gertrude Street cottage open. Pot Luck moved to Gertrude last July after starting out in a barn on Swinkels’ property.

Since moving to a busier part of Port Alberni and staying open more hours, business has really taken off, Swinkels said.

The $30,000 donation came from a year when Pot Luck renovated the cottage and moved from one location to the other. They have already seen a 40 per cent increase in the second half of their first year at the new location.

Swinkels is not one to look too far into the future—”To me, this is still a beginning,” she says—but Pot Luck Ceramics has gained national attention with its 2014 finalist ranking for a Prime Minister Volunteer Award in the Social Innovation category, and was a 2013 Vancouver Island Business Excellence Award winner for Community Leader. She is cautiously optimistic that the coop will be able to keep donating to Ty Watson House and perhaps other organizations down the road.

“This is the best part,” Swinkels said as she handed over the cheque. “This is our reward, to be able to give that away.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews.com

twitter.com/alberninews

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Giant book sale approaches in Port Alberni

This is the last week to drop off all your donations

Port Alberni ‘a safe place to be’ despite crime rate, says RCMP

Criminal offences up in Port Alberni for the first quarter of 2019

Portal Players production touches on residential schools

Sisters chronicles a convent-run residential school in Canada

San Group ups plans for mill, remanufacturing plant in Port Alberni

Company moves new mill site after public input

VIDEO: Alberni Valley celebrates Easter weekend

Port Alberni children enjoy Easter egg hunts and spring activities

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening in B.C.

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Early data suggests no post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving charges

Many police departments are prioritizing investigations related to drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Most Read