Our Ship in the Harbour

By Faith and Paul Aggett

February marked one year since we received that fateful phone call informing us that our daughter and granddaughter had been hit by a drunk driver.

In shock and disbelief we quickly packed our bags and began a five hour journey that we did not return from until nine months later.

When we arrived at the Hamilton General Hospital, our three other children and their families were already there. We learned that we would be saying goodbye to our 12 year old granddaughter and that our daughter had survived surgery to address her multiple breaks and that her head and vascular trauma would need careful monitoring.

The outcome was uncertain.

We were frozen, numb and seeking escape from our intolerable present state. But as parents, we had a job to do. Our vigil began immediately and our lives became utterly and irrevocably changed.

A hospital social worker assigned to us gave our oldest son the information about The Mark Preece Family House and he guided my husband and I there to get registered for a room.

In the ashen weeks of daytime dread and nightly terror, everything began to run together—past, possible future and impossible present. Yet The House became our ship in the harbour. The staff were there to listen, to give assuring words and to help in any way they could to lessen our load.

The physical construction of the building had been thoughtfully designed allowing us the privacy of our own bedroom but also the opportunity to share experiences with other guests in the common kitchen and homey living room. These were occasions of impromptu therapy sessions for us. We found hope and strength in their stories and a chance to express our grief in an understanding atmosphere. By their example, we were able to extend the same sincere peace to others traumatized by their circumstances.

By mid-March, our daughter’s condition had improved. No longer in intensive care but with a lengthy hospital stay ahead of her, we were told that the General was seeking out an outlying hospital where her convalescence could be accommodated.

We panicked.

We had gotten into a comfortable routine. The House was one block away from the hospital; we had become friends with the helpful staff, the Food Basics store was also within walking distance and there was laundry facilities on site. Plus, the room rate was reasonable. It had become our home away from home while we spent 11 to 12 hours each day at the hospital. This gem of a spot was unique. It made us anxious to think of leaving.

We were relocated for a month and a half in another community where we lived out of a motel room. Thankfully our daughter was accepted back to the Regional Rehabilitation Center in Hamilton and we once more took up residence at The House.

Our daughter, Naomi has returned to live in her own home with assistance of daily PSWs, in-house physical therapy and continued medical care. Progress is slow but she is determined and is now walking with a walker.

After nine months of living on the edge, Paul and I returned home to Minden, ON to resume our lives and focus on our self care. We are forever thankful for the role The Mark Preece Family House played in our lives when life seemed so desperate. We look forward to our periodical phone calls with our trusted friend, Crystal, one of the “angels” on Mark Preece staff. Although we hope to never again need this valued service to those in need, we thank God for its conception and wish every community had one.

When you make a donation to The Mark Preece Family House you are helping us help families like Faith and Paul’s during very difficult times in their lives. Support The House today.

Join us on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at Flamborough Golf and Country Club!

Enjoy your day on the fairways including:

  • 18-hole round of golf
  • Golf cart
  • Lunch
  • Drink ticket
  • Registration gift
  • Buffet dinner reception
  • Prizes and more!

Plus, purchase a Player Passport Package to add more fun to your day including a Mulligan, Putting Contest and entry to win the Pot of Gold.

Save $50 by registering before March 31! There are many sponsorship opportunities available as well!

Thyme4Dinner: Nursing Family Gives Back to Our Guests

By Teresa Maas

One of my goals when I retired was to get a group of fellow retirees together and participate in the Thyme4Dinner program. I was on the original Board of Directors for the Mark Preece Family House and always intended to return to volunteer in some capacity.

Our group has many fond memories of our time together as a family of ICU nurses at St. Joseph’s Healthcare. Some memories are of working alongside Mark Preece as we cared for patients.

Mark loved food, so what better way to honour his memory than by providing home cooked delicious meals for the guests of MPFH.

Our first dinner in March of 2019 was a huge success. We served Shepherd’s pie, a variety of vegetables, rolls and butter, and a delicious array of homemade desserts including cheesecake. The staff made us feel very welcome from the moment we arrived and they are always happy to see us.

When planning our meals we always take into consideration the diverse dietary preferences and try to have something for everyone. Our most recent meal consisted of three delicious stews – chicken mushroom, hearty beef and vegetarian chili. We always end our meals with cheesecake which was Mark’s favourite… any kind of cheesecake.

Our group is like a second family, most of us worked as nurses for over 40 years—working in the ICU taught us how important family is. Spending time together is always time we enjoy and look forward to.

When we come to The House we are meeting the guests when they are going through possibly the worst time in their lives. We can’t think of a better way to spend time together, taking their mind off of their troubles, listening to their stories and providing a delicious home cooked meal. And at the same time we share our memories of Mark with the guests.

We will continue to participate monthly in Thyme4Dinner because we can’t think of a better way to show our love than inviting The House guests to sit down to a delicious home cooked meal after a stressful day at the hospital.

We encourage other groups to participate in this very worthwhile and rewarding program too.

Bon Appetit!

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.

Through Heartbreak and Triumph

Every day we hear stories of heartbreak.

Our guests experience the full spectrum of human emotions when they walk through our doors. They share their burdens after long days sitting bedside in a local hospital. They share their fears while they wait for news of a loved ones surgery. They share their tears as they figure out what to do next.

Every day we hear stories of triumph.

A child who is leaving intensive care. A parent who has just made it out of surgery. A friend who is going home.

In between each of these moments we provide support. We provide comfort. We provide a place that isn’t home but can feel like home. It is what our guests need to help them get through the day. A place to rest their head at night. A place to feel like someone else cares.

Over the past 11 years, we have supported nearly 7,000 families dealing with a number of crises and unimaginable circumstances. And you have helped us provide these supports. With every donation you help us continue to provide a home away from home to families in need.

Thank you!


Mary Hatt, Co-Director
Mark Preece Family House

Our 50/50 is Back!

Our 50/50 Raffle in partnership with Let’s Go Travel is back for 2023! Learn more or purchase tickets by clicking the button below.