What if you suffered a catastrophic injury or illness and were in long-term hospitalized care? It's difficult to imagine suffering an accident or illness so extreme as to result in living out your days hospitalized. But imagine for a moment you also were to spend that lifetime alone. Imagine you had no visitors to cheer your days. No visitors ever. A Burlington woman, Lisette Kingo, established The Angel Project with an objective to brighten the days of unfortunate people in this position.
Founded by Kingo in 2008, the idea for The Angel Project began when she visited the Parkwood Hospital Complex Care unit in London, Ontario. It was Christmas, but it seemed to Kingo that there were many forgotten individuals in the rooms of the facility. She decided she could not walk away and not look back.Compelled to do something, she began working with her own funds and the help of a few friends.
That first year they purchased gifts and basic personal care items for a few of the patients at the Parkwood Hospital. And from there, the project has continued to grow each year.
“When I started TAP, it was because I could not walk away and not look back. I simply felt compelled to do something, anything and things evolved from there. I truly believe that there is good in every person, and I know that most want to make a difference, but just do not know where to start, so it is with humility that I ask for consideration of support,” Kingo says.
The Angel Project's programs benefit patients who have been hospitalized for 10 years or more, and have not had any outside visitors. These patients either have no family and friends or ““ as unthinkable as it may be ““ they have simply been given up on. The programs focuses on patients who are too sick to be moved to a nursing home and will spend their remainder of their days hospitalized, alone.
Among early supporters of The Angel Project was The Swedish School of Halton. Each Christmas, the students make cards and purchase small gifts to give to the patients. The presents are things we would take for granted, a nice soap instead of what the hospital provides, or toothpaste to use instead of baking soda.
The patients Kingo visits are of all ages, as young as 18 years up to age 65. The conditions they suffer from include MS and ALS, but most are simply accident victims; vehicle, skateboard, ski, snowboard accidents as well as gun shot wounds.
Often an Angel Project visit will be in the form of an outing, and for the patients it will be their first trip outside of the hospital in many years. In the past few years Kingo and fellow volunteers have organized outings for complex care patients including NHL pre-season games and concerts as well as holiday and summer parties.
“I suppose I do what I do because it is every human's fear to be alone. To find out that there are so many people not only ill, but also alone is heart wrenching and to know and not act is simply not an option I could live with,” she says.
Virtually 100 per cent of the donations received by The Angel Project directly reach patients in the form of an outing or equipment. But more than the tangible gifts, Kingo knows it's the human interaction that impacts them most.
The funds raised and donated by The Angel Project are earmarked for specific use of complex care patients. In the instance of St. Joseph's Health Care Foundation, they receive and steward the funds to be used with their Complex Continuing Care Program to fund leisure and recreational activities to enhance quality of life.
Kingo's company Kingo Couture is the North Amercan distributor for the SNO of Sweden jewellery line. Kingo has worked with SNO to develop the limited edition “Angel Wings” pendant, of which 100 per cent of proceeds of sales goes directly to The Angel Project.
For more info visit theangelproject.ca