Be it your energy or your actions, what you give out comes back to you. That’s one definition of the word karma. It’s likely a term that holds true for HOMEBASE 50/50 Lottery Winner Brittney Page, who just won $6,657.50.
Back in March, when Covid-19 had suddenly slowed the world down, Brittney and her team Canada Volleyball teammate Dani Smith launched a fundraiser in an effort to help healthcare workers and local businesses, both who were feeling the stress and effects of the pandemic.
“My mom is a retired KGH RN, so I know first-hand how selfless and hard-working health care workers are. Being former professional athletes, both Dani and I grew up being involved in our communities and fundraisers, so it was a natural reaction to a stressful time in our community”.
Page, who has participated in HOMEBASE both years, was eager to play HOMEBASE 2.0. and support JoeAnna’s House.
“It’s really special to see a community rally together for something like JoeAnna’s House and I wanted to be a part of that again, even if it was just a 50/50 ticket purchase. I also co-organize an annual fundraiser, ‘Stand Up For” so I understand how impactful fundraising events can be for charitable organizations – they depend on them!”
She hasn’t yet had much time to think about how she will spend her lottery winnings but she knows some new fall boots are likely in her future!
“We might not have been able to play ball together this year, but we still had fun supporting JoeAnna’s House. It was awesome to see someone like Brittney win the 50/50. She knows the importance of working together and supporting the community” says Josh Gorges, co-host of HOMEBASE.
Even without the signature NHL All-Star Ball Game and Slo-Pitch Tournament, the re-thought HOMEBASE 2.0 was a success. With the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle and donations, $51,752 was raised for JoeAnna’s House.
“Over the past few months we’ve really seen the importance of working together. And once again, Kelowna stepped up to the plate to make a big difference” says Brendan Willis, Branch Manager for HOMEBASE title sponsor, Raymond James Kelowna Corporate Branch.
Since opening in November, JoeAnna’s House has welcomed over 245 families. It has remained open throughout the pandemic.
“Even during the pandemic, families must still travel to Kelowna to support their loved ones. Injury, heart attacks, strokes, accidents, the birth of premature babies still happen. And when they do, JoeAnna’s House is there” says KGH Foundation CEO, Doug Rankmore.
“It’s people like Brittney Page, Josh Gorges and Blake Comeau, businesses like Raymond James, and every community member that supported this HOMEBASE 2.0 campaign, that ensure JoeAnna’s House is open to support families in need when they need it most.”
On March 9, just four months after officially opening its doors, JoeAnna’s House faced the grim reality brought on by COVID-19. It was early days in the pandemic, but KGH was already deep into adapting operations. In the coming weeks, local hotels and other hospitality properties would close.
JoeAnna’s House provides much-needed accommodation for families of patients from outside the central Okanagan. If the house were to close, these families would have nowhere to go. And so a commitment was made to stay open and do whatever needed to keep guests safe while being close to their loved ones in hospital.
The stories that follow offer a small snapshot into life at JoeAnna’s House during COVID-19.
Cindy McBurnie, Vernon, BC – Cindy arrived at JoeAnna’s House on January 24, two days after her husband, Kevin, was transferred to KGH from Vernon Jubilee. He was in a coma suffering acute respiratory distress. His chances of survival were low. Cindy stayed a total of 42 days before Kevin’s condition stabilized enough for him to be transferred back to VJH.
“I can’t even put into words the depth of my gratitude for JoeAnna’s House. I know COVID-19 challenged everyone in health care, but I just wanted to be close to Kevin. I’m so thankful for the superhuman efforts of the staff to maintain the service JoeAnna’s House offers. I don’t know what I would have done without it.”
Allie & Clay Rasmussen, Creston, BC – Allie and her mother, Sylvia, arrived at JoeAnna’s House on March 13. Allie’s high risk pregnancy required her to stay close to the neonatal intensive care unit at KGH. They stayed just over a month until little Jeremiah was born on April 19. Allie’s husband Clay says,
“Our stay here provided such relief! Knowing that we could stay here for such a long time without worry directly impacted Jeremiah’s birth in such an amazing way. The entirety of the BC interior is truly blessed by JoeAnna’s House and its staff.”
Bonnie Oicle-Chale, Cranbrook, BC – As Bonnie made her way to Kelowna, she found herself navigating treacherous weather conditions on HWY33. It was late at night, raining, with deer all around. She was overwhelmed with worry for her husband Jim, who had just experienced a massive heart attack.
“Jim was airlifted to KGH. I quickly threw a few things in a bag and started driving. As I got close to Kelowna I realized that the pandemic was impacting my ability to find accommodations. Thankfully, I was welcomed to a beautiful, warm environment at JoeAnna’s House. The team was caring and friendly. It made a very stressful situation so much easier. Thank you, thank you!”
After having three stints put in his heart, Jim made a speedy recovery and was discharged after only three days in hospital.
Shirley Jones, Montrose, BC – After having a stroke, Shirley’s husband, Wayne was transferred to KGH from Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital.
“I had the privilege of staying at JoeAnna’s House for 33 days while my husband was being treated at KGH Rehab Centre. This beautiful sanctuary full of warm, often scared, guests has been a blessing. The staff and volunteers are very special and the location is such a treasure; steps from the hospital, views of the lake and wonderful walking paths. Being able to stay at JoeAnna’s House meant so much to me and my husband. With the pandemic causing hospital lockdowns, non-essential closures and physical distancing, JoeAnna’s House was a refuge when I needed one most.”
Bases are loaded, batters are up, and we’re going to hit it out of the park… just a little differently this year.
We may not be able to play ball together this year, but we can still work together to hit a grand slam for JoeAnna’s House! Josh Gorges and Blake Comeau are back! And they’re bringing the fun online. Are you rooting for Team Gorges or Team Comeau? Dollar for dollar, the guys will face off to see which team can raise the most for JoeAnna’s House. It’s HOMEBASE 2.0!
Want to see your favourite win? You can purchase your 50/50 or make a donation in support of either Team Gorges or Team Comeau. And, may the best team win…HOMEBASE 2.0.
And even better, no matter which team wins the cup, the real winner is JoeAnna’s House and the families who need a place to stay when their loved ones are being cared for at Kelowna General Hospital.
WINNER: Ticket # 03933 – BRITTNEY PAGE
TEAM GORGES SWAG BAG WINNER: Brendan & Kayleen Ritchie
TEAM COMEAU SWAG BAG WINNER: Jodie Hadley
The Most Precious Gift
It was a clear, starry night this past November 21, when the community came out in droves to celebrate the completion of a project that has captivated our collective hearts for over two years. Built and now operated entirely by the generosity of the people of this community and from across the southern interior region, the lights were officially turned on at JoeAnna’s House.
Just four days later, on November 25, the first family arrived, desperately in need of a safe, warm place to stay near Kelowna General Hospital where a beloved son, husband and father fought to recover from a devastating traumatic accident in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The family had already been in Kelowna for over four weeks.
For Cam Klassen, October 21 began like any other typical, rainy fall day in Westwold BC, a small community close to his home in Enderby. The 31-year-old carpenter was working on a hayshed roof with a friend. But in a moment, everything changed.
Cam slipped on the wet roof and fell to the ground, 22 ft. below. His friend also fell, but was unhurt, and quickly called 9-1-1. The Air Ambulance was dispatched directly to the farm, and Cam was flown to Kelowna General Hospital, the main referral hospital for emergency trauma for the southern interior region. His injuries were extensive, but the most concerning was the trauma to his brain.
He was sedated and placed in a medically induced coma.
That night, Cam’s wife, Heather, tried to comprehend the gravity of Cam’s condition. So many doctors, broken bones, bleeding in the brain – the list seemed endless. Heather leaned into her faith.
“All we could do was pray. I just prayed that his brain would be OK.”
Soon, her prayers began to include their two small children: four-year-old-daughter, Jaci, and one-year-old son, Kade who Heather had to leave in Armstrong with friends. It broke her heart to be away from them. She did her best, with the help of her parents, Larry and Marion, to commute back and forth, to be there for Cam and their children, but the stress was overwhelming.
“When the person you love is fighting for his life, you feel like you have to be strong, but inside I felt like I almost died too. I was numb.”
Meanwhile, friends and family in the Klassen’s tight-knit Mennonite community in Enderby were doing whatever they could to help their fallen brother and his family. By grace, there was already a well-established friendship between their church and the KGH Foundation.
For years, the Klassen’s Mennonite community in Enderby has been host to young men from across the U.S. and Canada who provide service as part of their faith commitment. Many of these young men choose to volunteer at KGH, and as a result, a deep relationship has formed between Director of Business Enterprises, Nancy Wells, and the Mennonite host families in Enderby.
In the weeks leading up to the JoeAnna’s House grand opening, Nancy was busy organizing volunteers to help prepare for the home’s first guests. It wasn’t long before Nancy learned about the Klassens from her young Mennonite volunteers and their host families.
Being from a small farming community in rural Alberta herself (ironically, the same small town that Cam’s parents came from), and having taken the young men under wing for many years, Nancy felt a kinship toward this family. They needed help.
Cam lay in a coma for nearly three weeks. On Nov. 9, he woke up.
Still two weeks from opening day, Nancy reached out to the KGH social worker assigned to Cam’s case and began the process of ensuring that Heather, Jaci, Kade, Larry and Marion would be welcomed to JoeAnna’s House as soon as it was ready to receive guests.
“We called them our Kelowna unit,” laughs Heather. “Nancy Wells and the boys – they were our angels. JoeAnna’s House is so beautiful and the staff are so caring, coming here has been such a relief, there are no words. Being with my children… well, it’s helped mend a little part of my broken heart.”
“What would I say to the donors who made this possible? ‘Thank you’ just seems too feeble. I am grateful beyond measure. You have given me the most precious gift…being together with my children while staying close to Cam.”
JoeAnna’s House is a remarkable gift in so many ways. It will continue to stand as a symbol of what can be accomplished when we work together. And as the days go by, and more families pass through its doors, more stories will emerge that will remind us that, despite what seems like an ever more complicated and disconnected world, there is never really much degree of separation between us.
Our village might seem bigger, but the values we share don’t change. Families helping families. We are always better together.
After nearly two months at KGH, Cam was discharged on December 19, and was able to spend the holidays at home in Enderby.
Charlotte Palmer was born early. At just 29 weeks, she weighed only 2.6 lbs, and has been in and out of the hospital ever since. At the age of one, Charlotte was diagnosed with MIRAGE syndrome, which is an extraordinarily rare condition; it is believed Charlotte is the only surviving child in Canada with MIRAGE right now.
Due to the complexity of Charlotte’s health, time at home as a family of four is rare and mom, Christina Palmer, who is on leave from her job as an RCMP officer, regularly transports Charlotte to either Vancouver (BC Children’s Hospital) or Kelowna (KGH) for treatment.
The Palmer family resides in Penticton, BC, and while a trip to Kelowna may seem ideal (compared to Vancouver), Charlotte’s dad, Rob, tells a different story.
“When Charlotte stays in Vancouver, we are almost always accommodated at the Ronald McDonald House,” says Rob. “Christina can stay right there, able to respond quickly if she’s needed, and my son and I can visit on weekends. While KGH is a closer hospital, we are not able to stay onsite, so are often rushing there in an emergency, which can happen at any time of the day or night. The highways are not always in great condition, and when your child’s health is at risk, driving back and forth can be harrowing.”
Christina echoes Rob’s sentiments.
“Keeping families together is critical, especially when you have a little one that’s sick,” she says. “The stress of being away from your home is one thing, and then the stress of having a sick child is another. So when you put them both together, it’s really overwhelming.”
The KGH Foundation has committed to building and operating JoeAnna’s House, a home that will provide a place to rest and relax within steps of their loved ones’ bedside. A place to be in community with others who are navigating a similar, difficult path.
It is with our deepest gratitude that we thank everyone who continues to support this incredible, and much-needed place for families to be together.