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$1 million donated to three Comox Valley charities

Neil Woodrow, Audrey Craig, Donna Nelson, and Lisa Zuk join together for the presentation of the Woodrow Estate cheque, which sees a $1 million donation split between three Comox Valley organizations. - Photo by Jim Peacock
Neil Woodrow, Audrey Craig, Donna Nelson, and Lisa Zuk join together for the presentation of the Woodrow Estate cheque, which sees a $1 million donation split between three Comox Valley organizations.
— image credit: Photo by Jim Peacock

Three local charities have received more than $1 million from the estate of a Comox Valley woman.

The gifts include $500,000 to Comox Valley Hospice Society, $300,000 to Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society and $200,000 to a local animal welfare organization. In each case, this is the largest donation ever received by the local charity.

The gifts were made in the Will of Michele Woodrow who died in June 2013, just 11 months after her husband Danny Woodrow. Danny and Michele were married for more than 15 years and during that time worked together on “Farmer Dan’s” potato farm and other ventures.

“These are all groups that Michele and Danny admired,” said Lisa Zuk, executor of Michele’s estate.

Michele loved animals recalled her mother Donna Nelson, “Michele adopted the oldest, saddest dogs from shelters and gave them the best years of their lives,” said Donna.  “Everyone always said they would love to “come back” as one of Michele’s dogs or cats.”

“The Woodrows were always great supporters of MARS,” said Maj Birch, manager of the bird and wildlife recovery group.  “We are honoured that she remembered us in the company of these other worthy charities.”  MARS will use the funds in its work helping ill, injured, orphaned and oiled wildlife recover and be released back to the wild.

The gift to hospice also had a personal meaning for Michele and Danny Woodrow. “After her husband’s death and then her own health setbacks, Michele became very interested in palliative care and Hospice,” said Zuk.

Over 1,000 local residents use the Comox Valley’s Hospice services every year and the society relies on the generosity of local businesses and individuals to fund those services.

“We are overwhelmed and extremely grateful for this compassionate gift from Michele Woodrow,” said CVHS President Audrey Craig.  “This is by far the largest single gift we have ever received, and the Woodrow family’s generosity in “paying it forward” will make a very meaningful difference in the quality of care that can be offered to other families.”

These funds will enable CVHS to provide the kind of care that is already offered in other communities but is not currently available in the Comox Valley.  This will include a full scope of care at the four interim residential hospice beds being developed in The  Views at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, a dedicated space that will provide compassionate care for 80 to 100 people and their loved ones each year.

Some of the funds received will also be used to ensure a comfortable space for grief and bereavement counseling, support group meetings, on-going training and support of hospice volunteers, care giver support and other services that assist with the wishes of those who choose to die at home.

“Providing compassionate hospice palliative care has fallen on the shoulders of our community and we depend on the community we serve,” said Craig.  “We cannot say thank you enough to those who, like the Woodrow family, include Hospice in their estate planning.”

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