When Henry Iacobelli’s brother was in the hospital he longed for a glass of wine with his dinner, so each night Henry would sneak one in — sometimes even two — until the day he died.
“Everyone should spend their last few days with pride and be able to go in dignity,” explained Henry to a crowd outside The Hospice of Windsor & Essex County Erie Campus Monday evening.
In that spirit, Henry and his wife Lina announced a $1-million donation to the hospice.
“The first time I went to hospice in Windsor, I lost my heart and mind and soul to it,” said Lina. “I thought this is something special to get involved with… and here we are.”
Flanked by family members the Iacobellis, a well-known Ruthven family who own Sun-Brite Canning Ltd., left their mark on the-end-of-life care facility — literally.
Two plaques, honouring the family and their businesses were revealed on the walls of two wings at the hospice in honour of their gift, which all but capped off the facility’s $6-million capital campaign.
“Hospice is one of the most wonderful works of mercy that you can see,” said Henry, adding that he and Lina had seen how hospices made the final days for many of their friends comfortable. “We feel that everybody deserves a hospice when their times comes.”
Carol Derbyshire, executive director of hospice, called the Iacobellis “champions of hospice values” and added that their donation would allow the staff to focus on what really matters.
“It takes such tremendous pressure off us that we won’t have debt and can focus on the operations of the organization,” she said. “I was amazed at the amount of money they wanted to give.”
The hospice, which officially opened in April, is staffed by about 20 employees and 100 volunteers who take care of patients. Much of the work to the mansion-like building has been done through donations including the land and construction of the facility, which was contributed to by the Amicone family.
Although the Iacobelli family generally prefers to maintain their privacy when making philanthropic donations, Henry said they decided to make their most recent gift public in hopes it would encourage others to be generous with their time or money.
“Each and every one of us has a responsibility to give back to our communities and set an example for the next generation,” he said. “It’s about everyone doing their part.”