Comox Valley Hospice Society’s incoming executive director, Jane Sterk (left), and chairperson Paula Horky. Photo by M. Thompson

Comox Valley Hospice Society introduces new executive director

Jane Sterk takes over from longtime ED Terri Odeneal

The Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) is introducing a new executive director.

Jane Sterk takes on this role July 1. She admits it is an interesting time to be stepping into this position.

“These are challenging days for all non-profits, but they have extra significance for organizations like ours,” says Sterk. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the critical importance of end-of-life planning and role of hospice palliative care, in a time of unimaginable grief and bereavement in our communities.”

Sterk’s resume includes a long tenure in the public spotlight, most notably as leader of the BC Green Party, from 2007-2013. She was the executive director of Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, from 2014-2018.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Alta., Sterk has a doctorate from the University of Alberta in counseling psychology.

“I’m excited to be joining the Hospice Society, particularly when it’s poised for enhanced services to meet ever-growing demand,” she said.

Even without the additional demands resulting from the pandemic, the months ahead promise to be ones of change for CVHS. Transition of all community hospice beds (plus two additional beds) to the new Aitken Community Hospice being built at Ocean Front Village on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay is scheduled to occur in 2021. CVHS outpatient offices will be moving there, as well.

Throughout the upcoming move, as always, CVHS will remain committed to aiding individuals, as well as their caregivers, friends and family, in whatever way matters most to each of them.

From advance-care planning workshops, a resource library and music therapy, to hospice care and grief counselling, CVHS offers supports and programs to people of all ages, and all stages of living and end-of-life. In fact, notes board chair Paula Horky, over the years, their programs have been recognized locally, provincially and nationally for innovation. And many of those initiatives were implemented under the guidance of outgoing executive director Terri Odeneal, who credits the staff and volunteers and their commitment.

“Fifteen years ago, Terri Odeneal joined us and led CVHS from very tenuous circumstances into the present wherein our rich continuum of services is highly appreciated and regarded by those in our community and by our care partners,” says Horky. “Not only are we grateful for the society’s strong position as Terri hands things over to Jane, but we’re confident that excellent leadership will continue as the organization works to advance our futuristic vision for community hospice palliative care in the Comox Valley.

“With her extensive background in public education, mental health care, business and organizational development, as well as her proven commitment to public service, we know that Jane can continue the advancements Terri began over a decade ago.”

For Sterk’s part, she is keenly anticipating the challenges and rewards to come.

“I look forward to working with the dedicated staff, volunteers, board and the community partners of Comox Valley Hospice as we navigate the critical months and years ahead. It’s an exciting time!”

Founded in 1983 by a group of dedicated community members, CVHS offers care and support to people of all ages who are living with dying and caregiving be it at home, in care homes, in hospital or in community hospice. The non-profit society serves hundreds of local people annually with a small staff and dozens of well-trained volunteers.

Few people realize more than 70 per cent of CVHS funding comes from the generosity of the community; despite tougher economic times, the demands for hospice care and support increases every year given the Comox Valley demographics. For more information on donating to or volunteering with CVHS, visit https://comoxhospice.com/

Comox Valley

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