MONCTON -- After losing a beloved friend to cancer, a group of Moncton residents found a way to honour his memory by support a new hospice in their community.

Gary Steeves and his wife Trudy remember their dear friend Paul Whitmee everyday.

“When Paul arrived at age 12, we had so much in common through sports, the YMCA, scouts and everything that we grew up together,” says Gary Steeves. “Graduated together at Moncton High. We were each other’s best man at our weddings. So there’s been a very long and strong connection between the two of us.”

When Paul passed away last year after a nearly decade long battle with cancer, the Steeves knew they wanted to honour his memory in a special way.

“Because of the nature of Paul’s passing, it illustrated very, very much the need for a hospice residence which Paul would have benefitted from, had we had one,” says Steeves.

With the help of friends, family and others who knew and loved Paul, the Steeves have now raised nearly $30,000 for the Paul Whitmee fund, with all proceeds being donated to the new South East New Brunswick Residential Hospice.

“The toll on caregivers and loved ones is extremely difficult,” says Dennis Cochrane, chairman of the board at the South East New Brunswick Residential Hospice. “So this is designed as a place where some one can go at the end of their journey, where its not an institution, its not a hospital, its not a ‘home’, but it is a home.”

The palliative care facility is scheduled to open its doors in May 2021, and will provide a peaceful setting for friends and family to say their final goodbyes to loved ones- something Paul’s friends say they wish he could have accessed in his final weeks.

“Every family is going to come to the path in the road where they’re going to need a facility like this,” says Cochrane. “So it excites me that people come forward and recognize its needed and they’re recognizing all the volunteers that are making it happen.”

Though details have yet to be finalized, one open, the hospice plans to honour Paul and the contribution made on his behalf.

“It’s been comforting to me to know that his memory will carry on, and that we have been able to play a small part in it,” says Trudy Steeves.

Turning a lasting friendship into a forever tribute.