Jessica’s House – Oke Woodsmith selected as a design partner

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Oke Woodsmith is so excited to be selected as a design partner for Jessica’s House! What an honor it is to be a part of such an amazing project, for such a well deserving community.

A community sharing is a community caring

Oke Woodsmith is known for helping people make dreams come true. The homes they build are designed to make everyday living a special experience. So, when they heard about the South Huron Hospital Foundation’s dream to build a residential hospice in Exeter ON, they offered to help.

“Randy Oke approached us and offered to design it for free,” said Pat O’Rourke, chair of the board. The board envisioned an end-of-life environment that was a home away from home.

Oke Woodsmith created a design that would fulfil that vision. “It’s built and looks like a home,” said Pat.

The 4,000-square-foot building includes three individual rooms with roll-in ensuites and terrace doors, state-of-the-art kitchen, welcoming family room for music, art and group activities, and offices. Radiant in-floor heating adds comfort and reduces dust. Exposed beams on the exterior are repeated inside adding a warm touch that increases the home-like atmosphere. A soft palette of wall colours also dispels any institutional feel. The entire interior is spacious and airy. Gardens surround the hospice, which provides care for all of southwestern Ontario.

“It feels like they’re (residents) not leaving their home. It does not feel institutional,” said Pat. “There are no bells and buzzers. It has a nice comfy feel.”
After choosing the design, the foundation tendered bids for a general contractor, and selected Oke Woodsmith based on cost and reputation. Oke also did the framing and trimming on the build.

“A lot of contractors wanted to donate in kind,” said Pat. Some of those generous contractors included Brad Baker Plumbing, Pfaff Electric, Smith-Peat Roofing and Keller Roofing, Forest City Fire Protection (sprinkler system), MTE engineering firm, McCann Redi-Mix, Municipality of South Huron, Gary Bean and family. Many more local contractors donated as well. Their in-kind donations accounted for about $750,000 of the 
$4 million the project received in support of the build and start-up costs.
“This is a community that cares and gave unbelievable financial support,” said Pat. Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson also advocated for funding from the provincial government for $315,000 in annual funding for the yearly operating expenses of approximately $600,000.

The community engagement is also reflected in the name, Jessica’s House. Jessica was the 22-year-old daughter of Maria and Tim Hamather. The family is well-known for its businesses and community support. When Jessica passed away from a rare cancer, “we thought it was appropriate to name the hospice in her memory as a legacy,” said Pat.

Jessica’s House is visually appealing and functions beautifully for its residents, their guests and staff. Oke’s design ensures enjoyment of the space by all who pass through its doors.

“Oke is an experienced designer and builder. They made our job easy working with them. We’re a volunteer group. Randy and his brothers and team went above and beyond. They were there constantly and looked after things. They kept the costs under control. We came in on budget. We are one of few, if not the only, hospice in the province that opened its doors without any debt” said Pat. And that’s a dream come true.

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