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Spotlight on: New West Hospice Society's Compassionate Café

Live music, Irish wake basket & 50/50 draw - it's all happening at the Compassionate Café
New West Hospice Society staff and board members, volunteers and community members have been attending the society's monthly Compassionate Café fundraisers.

What’s going on?

The New West Hospice Society is holding its monthly Compassionate Café on Sunday, March 26 at Begbies pub. Along with a live performance by the Heritage Uke Club, attendees will also have a chance to win an Irish wake basket and test their luck with a 50/50 draw.

What is the Compassionate Café all about?

Compassionate Cafes are held on the last Sunday of each month at Begbies, 609 Columbia St., from 3 to 5 p.m. Anyone 19 and older is welcome to attend.

“The intent of the Compassionate Café is to raise awareness about the New West Hospice Society, our bereavement programs like Walk & Talk and our Expressive Arts Therapy drop-in group, as well as volunteer opportunities,” said Rani MacInnes, the society’s volunteer program manager. “The Compassionate Café is also a fundraiser to help support our programs and volunteer training.”

What happens at the gatherings?

Live music, dancing, raffles and 50/50 draws are part of the fun of the Compassionate Cafés, which launched in October 2022.

“Each month the Compassionate Café has a different musician or band performing,” MacInnes said. “These musicians graciously donate their time to this event in support of the café. The New West Hospice Society is incredibly lucky have such amazing support in terms of local businesses as well as musicians.”

Community members are invited to drop in to the Compassionate Cafés any time between 3 and 5 p.m.

“The vibe at the cafés are open, compassionate, caring, inclusive, supportive, relaxed and fun,” MacInnes said.

The Compassionate Cafés kick off with a brief introduction by a board member who talks about the hospice society and encourages attendees to have fun and dance, if they’re so inclined.

“We do not talk about end of life at these events but instead celebrate compassionately and raise money for an important cause,” MacInnes said.

Is there anything new happening with the New West Hospice Society?

The society is launching a new bereavement program in April – Expressive Arts Therapy. It will be held once a month on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The program is free and is a drop-in format, but registration is required.

“The objective of this new group is to provide a safe space and support for members to explore their grief and loss through an expressive arts framework,” MacInnes said. “An experienced facilitator will lead the group.”

The New West Hospice Society is also working on plans for the River Walk fundraiser this summer. The walk-athon format fundraiser will begin at River Market.

“We encourage people to put teams together to walk with perhaps a fun theme and costumes,” MacInnes said. “Pledge forms will be used to raise money. The route is easy – from the Tin Soldier to the end by the off-leash dog park and back.”

The date is still to be determined, so stay tuned for more details.

For more information about the arts therapy program or to register for the River Walk, contact Rani MacInnes at 

Anything else?

The New West Hospice Society will be hosting the second annual Dialogue on Death and Dying in November.

The inaugural Dialogue on Death and Dying, held over three days in November 2022 at Century House, featured a variety of daytime and nighttime events, including a poetry night, a performance night, a prose night, and sessions on assorted topics, such as advance care planning, death-care options and planning, death conversation starters, and end-of-life doulas.

How can I support the New West Hospice Society?

The New West Hospice Society, created in 2016, has an ultimate goal of creating a physical hospice in New Westminster. One of the society’s other goals is to normalize discussions around death and dying, grief and bereavement, which can be a taboo subject for some people.

Other than attending fundraising events like the Compassionate Café or River Walk, community members can support the society via its ongoing donation and information page at Canada Helps. For the month of March, Canada Helps will match $20 for every ongoing monthly donation that is made. 

You’ll find more info at