Paul Sibley, Nanaimo Community Hospice executive director, left, is presented with a $15,000 cheque from Tony Harris at a grants presentation ceremony hosted at Harris Mazda on Wednesday, when more than $72,400 was given out to support local charities and community programs. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Foundations support community projects and programs in Nanaimo region

Griefmobile, pregnancy centre, nurse exam room simulator among recipients of more than $72,000

A nursing program simulation exam room at Vancouver Island University, bus service on Gabriola Island, a children’s ‘Griefmobile’ and a pregnancy centre were among recipients when Nanaimo Foundation and Tom Harris Community Foundation presented grants this week.

Wednesday’s event presented more than $72,400 to seven recipients of Nanaimo vital grants through the Nanaimo Foundation and the Tom Harris Community Foundation, established after Harris’s death last year. Harris was a Nanaimo Foundation board member for more than 16 years. The event was held at the Harris Mazda car dealership on Bowen Road in his honour.

“Dad would often say that everybody needs a hand up from time to time,” Tony Harris said in his address to the gathering. “The Tom Harris Community Foundation was, therefore, established to do just that, raise money and awareness and lend a hand up where it can … Dad was always there for our community and his community was there for him and for us since we lost him. The Tom Harris Community Foundation will ensure Tom will be there for this community for generations to come.”

The first and one of the largest grants at $15,000 presented was to Nanaimo Community Hospice Society to outfit the Children’s Griefmobile, a 10.5-metre-long motor home that has been converted into a mobile facility with a therapy room to reach out to children, teens and their families dealing with the loss of loved ones, but are unable to come to the hospice society’s Hospice House facility on St. George Crescent.

Paul Sibley, Hospice House executive director, said the society’s children’s program has a list of children ranging from three years old to their teens who are dealing with grief and are awaiting hospice services.

The Griefmobile will bring to schools and private homes a range of services focused on grief therapy for children and teens.

“[Griefmobile] is a working name. We’re going to rename that,” said Sidley. “It was an idea from two of our staff who were instrumental in creating this amazing play therapy room for kids who are going through grief, the loss of someone they love in their life.”

Hospice staff were taking services to schools, setting up and tearing down temporary facilities in empty rooms.

“If we could outfit a vehicle that could be like our play therapy room … the visual stimulation and tools and we take that out and go to schools and go to other places where kids are … and help them work through that grief,” he said.

The Nanaimo Men’s Centre received $15,000 for a pilot program to support children and families as they go through the challenges of high-conflict separation and divorce.

More than $3,000 was presented to Gabriola’s community bus service, GERTIE, for an office, and another $5,200 was given to People for a Healthy Community Gabriola Island for a zero waste sorting and storage area to redistribute waste human food as animal grade food for farmers and creates soil from its composting facility.

Crossroads Pregnancy Centre received $17,000 for structural renovations to its building on Kerrisdale Road.

Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society was awarded more than $7,000 for safety improvements for its daycare playground and Vancouver Island University Foundation received $10,000 to pay for a simulation exam room for VIU’s nursing program in the university’s health and science centre currently under construction.

“There’s a number of lifelike nursing rooms that are what we call, high-fidelity,” said Jason Coates, with VIU advancement and alumni relations. “There’s exam rooms and control rooms that are kind of like a NASA space station.”

The control systems program patient mannequins in the examination rooms to cough, breathe, simulate heart attacks and mimic symptoms from a range of ailments that nurses can practice on and develop hands-on skills they will need to deal with live patients.
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