A Look Back at 2021

The year 2021 was a significant one for Hospice Waterloo Region. We celebrated the grand opening of our new home, The Gies Family Centre. We also opened the new Cook Family Residence, which has now been operational for close to a year.

And like so many organizations, we continued to deal with the challenge of COVID-19. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers, our programs and services, as well as our events, continued with modifications.

Here’s a look back at some of our 2021 milestones…

The Gies Family Centre

Main entryway of The Gies Family Centre

The Gies Family Centre is the result of a compelling vision, many years of hard work, and the incredible support of our community. On March 21, 2021, we celebrated the grand opening with a virtual event, hosted by CTV Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme. As part of our grand opening festivities, we enjoyed musical performances by Drayton Entertainment and an inspiring message from special guest, David Chilton

You can watch the recording of our virtual event on YouTube.

Cook Family Residence

Our 10-bed hospice residence provides palliative care for those at end of life and support for their families. The residence interdisciplinary team consists of specially trained palliative nurses, personal support workers, social workers, spiritual care providers, kitchen and housekeeping aides along with many different volunteer supports.

Adrienne Barker, HWR’s Residence Director of Care, wrote a blog about the experience of opening a residence during a pandemic.

Residence Room at The Gies Family Centre


Congrats to the award-winning films for the 2021 YODOContest

We announced the winners of the first-ever short film competition — You Only Die Once: #YODOContest. The 1st and second prizes went to local filmmakers Brian Douglas (a beautiful death), and Stephie Reimer (That’s Ok). Honourable mention went to Kay Brown (If There Were Only 7 Days). The winning films were screened at the Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) from May 3-8, 2021. 

The second-annual #YODOContest is well underway, and winning films will be announced on March 25th. They will once again be screened at GRFF.


For the first time since the pandemic started, we were able to host a hybrid Hike and Bike for Hospice event, offering supporters the opportunity to meet their goals virtually, or in person. Here is a Facebook album of our in-person event in September 2021.

We also hosted our first-ever Lights of Love event in November 2021. Community members were invited to join us outside The Gies Family Centre for a candle-lighting ceremony in honour of loved ones who have passed. Look back at photos of the event.

People holding candles outside the entrance of The Gies Family Centre

And So Much More…

The pandemic did not stop HWR from hosting events and programs for the public.

  • We continued to host a number of Advance Care Planning webinars, and added new learning events, such as Film Fridays, and Death Cafés. Check our event calendar for 2022 sessions.
  • Our staff and volunteers brought much joy to our clients in Residence, with acts of kindness and fun food days.
  • And thanks to our wonderful donors, our Let Love Bloom campaign, launched in spring 2021, helped us create beautiful gardens and outdoor spaces at The Gies Family Centre that bring a sense of tranquillity and timelessness to all those who will use them.

    Responding to COVID-19

    And while the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a significant impact on how we delivered our programs and services in 2021, our staff and volunteers once again stepped up to adjust to the changing conditions.

    We were so thankful to the Ontario government for their one-time funding investment of $375,000 for 2021-22 to address COVID-related costs.

    Looking Ahead

    During this unprecedented time, Hospice of Waterloo Region has proven itself to be a strong, secure and stable organization that can withstand times of adversity and continue to envision a new future. As we look towards 2022, we will continue to keep the needs of our clients in the forefront.

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