Mission Hospice Society executive director Angel Elias stands in what used to be the group’s kitchen. The society is facing a $20,000 bill for repairs after leaking pipes and a sewer back up was discovered. / Kevin Mills Photo

The Disaster Before Christmas: Mission Hospice Society needs public’s help

Leaking pipes and a sewer back up leaves non-profit group with a huge bill it can’t afford to pay

There isn’t a lot of holiday cheer surrounding the Mission Hospice Society.

What started as a backed up shower and toilet has turned into a $20,000 nightmare for the local non-profit.

And executive director Angel Elias isn’t sure what to do.

A sewer back up and a series of pipe leaks has forced the office to shut down as repair crews get to work on the building.

But what lies ahead is uncertain.

Elias said in order to repair all the damage, even after the insurance claim, the price tag will be between $15,000 to $20,000.

It’s money the society doesn’t have.

“It is going to impact us greatly. I’m going to have to really buckle down and basically have bare bones for a few months. And not operate at full capacity,” said Elias.

Some programs will likely have to be canceled.

“In order to not have to take money away from our kids programs or the Christine Morrison Hospice comfort care, I am asking for the public’s help for donations.”

The problems started on Tuesday (Dec. 11) when some water back up was discovered in the downstairs shower and toilet at the office on Hillcrest Ave.

Elias contacted Mission-based plumbing company BC Redi-Rooter. After cutting a few small holes in the walls to get a better look at the pipes, it was discovered that the society building – a converted house originally built in 1969 – has old, copper pipes that were leaking water everywhere.

“The wood (behind the wall) was wet and moldy,” said Elias, adding that they also discovered more leaks in the ceiling and the hot water tank.

And they still hadn’t checked the sewer line.

“In order to get to the sewer line to see if there was a back up, we had to take out the kitchen in the basement.”

Elias called her insurance company and had an adjuster come to take a look.

“Their response was, they will cover everything that is damaged from the leak, but they don’t cover to fix the leak.”

To make matters worse, a portion of an old cast iron pipe from the sewer was discovered to be broken and rotted, causing the sewer back up.

Elias then received one more piece of bad news.

The society needed to contact the district in order to get permits to make the needed repairs. That’s when it was discovered that nothing that had been done downstairs was up to code.

“Now we have to bring everything up to code as well.”

Elias is now calling out to the public and local businesses for help.

“I’m hopeful that I can maybe recoup some costs so that we don’t have to affect programs.

“I feel like I’m constantly asking for money… but I don’t know what else to do,” she said.

The society does have a small contingency fund for building repairs, but it is no where near enough.

“It’s a bad time of the year, people are already having huge expenses and I understand that. I can give a charitable tax receipt for any donations,” said Elias.

While operations are currently closed they will be re-opening on Jan. 2, but Elias doesn’t know whether they will have to find a temporary location.

“We can’t use the building right now, it has no water and no washrooms at this time. It’s going to be a tough few months.”

The hospice society’s one-to-one, children’s support group, widow’s support group and many other things that happen in the evenings, will have to be put on hold, or moved.

However Elias said switching locations isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“People who are in the thick of grief, to change locations and to put that burden on them when they are already burdened with grief, it’s not as simple as people think. It’s a big one.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation to the Mission Hospice Society can call 604-826-2235 or visit missionhospice.bc.ca/donate/.

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