Flowers for the soul

Volunteers play an essential role at Victoria Hospice—indeed, without them, we could not begin to deliver the services at all levels which our community has come to rely on.

One especially important—some would say crucially important—part of Hospice is our Rooftop Garden.

Since its unveiling in 1997, the Garden has been an oasis for our patients, their families and friends, a quiet space for contemplation filled with flowers, birds, and views to the snowy Olympic Range.  Maintaining the Garden is the job of Kathleen Laird, Horticultural Therapist, and of a group of six dedicated and talented volunteers. One of these masters of the green thumb is Charles Dool.

Charles first visited our fourth floor Eden five years ago as a guest of a beloved Hospice volunteer, the late Akiko Kamitakahara.  Charles became a Garden volunteer by default rather than first choice, but gardens come naturally to him—he grew up on a farm in Ontario. “I’ve always had dirt under my fingernails,” he says. Later, during and after his career with Toronto Dominion Bank, Charles grew orchids as a hobby (a trophy for best cut flowers presentation was named in his honour by the Orchid Society of Alberta), grew and taught bonsai at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, and volunteered in other public gardens, including, after his move to Victoria, that of Government House.  Hospice Garden volunteers are on one week and then off for three, and come in as often as needed. Charles not only does his week in rotation, but he visits every couple of weeks to check on the hummingbird feeders.

“It’s inspiring how important the Rooftop Garden is to patients and their families,” Charles says.  “They will say, ‘It’s the most beautiful garden in the world.’  While there are many beautiful gardens, what this says is that the Rooftop Garden serves its purpose beautifully. That is what matters—that is the real beauty.” 

Victoria Hospice relies on our community for 50% of our annual funding. Thanks to commitment and compassion over and above the call of duty, volunteers like Charles Dool help us give back to the community we serve and depend on.  Thank you!

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Quality palliative and end-of-life care for all: Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing life-limiting illness, death and bereavement through patient and family centred care, education, research and advocacy.