Marvin and Pat DeSchryver: Working Together for Change (and for a Hospice)

The Catholic approach to holistic care envisioned for the Hospice at Glengarda is important to Pat and Marvin DeSchryver, who farm near Denzil, SK. (Photo courtesy of St. Paul's Hospital Foundation)

Article and photo courtesy of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation

This interview appeared in the Spirit newsletter published by the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation in Spring 2019.

Marvin and Pat DeSchryver have been farming near Denzil since 1978. They raised their four children on a mixed farm that also included a greenhouse and more than 500 saskatoon berry bushes.

The DeSchryvers admit that they often choose to do things “the hard way,” including trimming the 500 saskatoon bushes by hand. They started the farm the hard way, too, applying for a loan from their local credit union and building it from the ground up without any other financial support. Many long hours were spent planting in the greenhouse, caring for the animals and the yard and, for the past 25 years, picking berries.

“Our children learned how to work and to appreciate what we get from the earth, so I think it was a good investment,” Marvin says. “It wasn’t money we gave them; it was their work ethic.”

Every year, family and friends come together during saskatoon berry-picking time.

“It’s therapy,” Marvin says. “We’ve had some of the best times out in the berry patch with our family and friends, picking berries and visiting.”

Marvin and Pat are strong believers that big tasks can be accomplished when a community comes together, and life in the community of Denzil is full proof of that. Marvin says that in the

Denzil area, neighbours volunteer the hours needed to do all the maintenance on the church. The community curling and skating rink has also been kept up thanks to local volunteers.

So when the DeSchryvers came upon some unexpected wealth, they decided to give $120,000 to another important community- centred cause: Close to Home Campaign for Hospice and End-of-life Care.

They strongly support the campaign’s goal of the creation of The Hospice at Glengarda, which will deliver compassionate care for people nearing the end of their life. As a Catholic facility owned by St. Paul’s Hospital, the hospice will have a Catholic approach to holistic care—an approach that inherently appeals to the DeSchryvers.

“We have strong faith and believe in Catholic principles,” says Marvin, who has been involved with the Knights of Columbus since 1978.

While Marvin and Pat are thinking of family who are aging or have died, they also are looking to the care they would like for themselves sometime in the future.

“Is the care going to be there when we need it?” Marvin asks.
“If it would have been there when Pat’s father passed away, I’m sure he would have used it.”