Housewarmings – Summer 2023 Newsletter
When Cheryl Sajkowski arrived at the Mark Preece Family House in July 2021, she had already been in Hamilton with her husband Stephen (Steve) for about a month. She had been staying in a hotel and while he was receiving treatment was referred to The House by staff at the Hamilton General Hospital.
Steve had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, which was then determined to be Lymphoma and was receiving treatment at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. Cheryl stayed with us in one of our two-bed rooms so their children and other families would be able to stay as well from time to time. She visited Steve almost every day during visiting hours, or “until they kicked me out.”
During cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and stem cell therapy, he suffered multiple infections, a bout of pneumonia, and a fall, which only exasperated his condition. Steve was discharged from the hospital after completing his treatments, but unfortunately, he was readmitted in September 2022 after one of his lungs collapsed. During his stay, a new Lymphoma mass was discovered in his brain, and the cancer had returned. It was a shorter stay for Cheryl this time, and Cheryl checked out of The House and returned to Guelph with Steve on September 16, 2022. Sadly, despite his fierce determination, Steve passed away from cancer on Oct 27, 2022.
It was a roller coaster of emotions for Cheryl and her family, but she says that staying at The Mark Preece Family House meant “so much to be close to him.” She appreciated that during her stay at The House she got the chance to “take a break” and come back to take a nap or get something to eat. Cheryl was one of the first guests to stay at The House after the shutdown due to COVID-19, and as she describes it, “basically moved in” for 248 days.
If she had not been referred, she would have had to continue commuting for over an hour each way to and from Guelph. Cheryl was grateful to find out that The House had laundry facilities available to her, because she had been going home once a week to do it. She says that it was great to have because “I needed it.” She appreciated having a kitchen available and says having snacks and treats “was wonderful to always have something there” when she left for the hospital in the morning. She also says, “Thyme4Dinner was fantastic” and hosted one herself during her stay.
Cheryl says that she is appreciative for all of the support that she received during her stay, both from the staff and volunteers and from the other guests. She still texts and talks to other former guests and volunteers from her time at The House and says it helped to “have someone to talk to who was in the same boat.” She says that The Mark Preece Family House has “created a tight-knit family”, and that she will always be grateful to The House for being there for her.
The Mark Preece Family House has provided a Home Away From Home for thousands of guests since its doors opened in 2011 and we couldn’t do any of it without the support of people like you.
Therapy Tails is a non-profit charity and dog therapy program that has been visiting The Mark Preece Family House for quite some time now. Kai, a Brindle Dutch Shepherd and Ozzy, a Bernese Mountain Dog have been welcome visitors to The House. Our guests, as well as our staff, always look forward to their visits on Mondays and Thursdays.
The Therapy Tails dogs had been regular visitors to The House prior to the pandemic but they were welcomed back in February. Therapy Tails “was built on the theory that when something is done for the right reasons it cannot fail.” Their volunteers and dogs go into communities in Hamilton, Burlington, and the Niagara area to teach, listen, visit, mentor, and become involved with numerous outreach programs.
Guests at The House are often far from their own communities and they may be missing their own dogs at home. Therapy dogs often work with people who have lost a loved one or in the case of The House, have loved ones in the hospital. Being able to just sit and be comforted by a dog to help anyone who is dealing with the stress of an illness.
You can find more information about Therapy Tails at their website www.therapytailsontario.ca.
The 26th Annual Golf4Life Fundraising Tournament for The Mark Preece Family House was a great success! On a hot and sunny June 1st, more than 100 golfers took to the links at Flamborough Hills Golf and Country Club for a fantastic day of golf and support for one of the first fundraisers created for The House.
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, donors, and golfers, more than $70,000 in revenue was raised.
Donna Waxman returned to donate her time and talent to take photos. You can check out all the photos of the day HERE.
Become an Adopt-A-Day donor today!
You will receive recognition and a charitable receipt. Best of all, you’ll know you have helped to make someone’s day just a little brighter. For your $500 donation, you can recognize a birthday, anniversary or memorial message in honour of a loved one.
As we enjoy these summer months we are very thankful to all of those who joined us again this year for 26th annual Golf4Life Tournament! It was a hot sunny day and a great time to catch up with so many supporters of the House.
In the last few months we have reached full occupancy which had not happened since prior to the pandemic. With the generous donations from our donors, we have been able to support over 265 families already this year. The full occupancy means we have a real sense of community within the House. The guests are caring for each other and finding support with other people in similar situations to their own. It is truly wonderful to watch the families of the House support each other in so many ways.
In March we welcomed Chris Pelletier to the team, as our Communications & Development Specialist. Many will have already noticed the increased social media presence. Chris is raising awareness of the House throughout our network and the broader community. Welcome Chris!
In April we highlighted the volunteers at the House on social media and the many ways in which they contribute, we are truly thankful for these wonderful people!
We are grateful to the many groups and individuals who have provided Thyme 4 Dinner meals for the guests so far this year. The kitchen truly is the heart of the House.
As the summer goes on, we will continue to provide support to those who require our home away from home. The patio and back deck are open, and the barbeque is back in use, so families can enjoy some time outside when they take a break from the hospital.
We are grateful for the volunteers, staff and donors who help us provide a much-needed service each and every day.
Co-Director + Finance & Operations