We were thrilled that we got charitable status,” he says. “All our programs will benefit from the ability to take in donated dollars.

In 2015 Covenant Care applied for charity status through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and was denied, pending further information.

As a result, last year the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) was unable to donate money to the charity.

Last year SASHA received $20,000 in donations to go towards Foyer Lacombe, but had to turn away $80,000 in pledges intended for the charitable organization.

Peter Van Bostelen, president of SASHA, says the $20,000 will now go to Covenant Care charity once they determine the needs at Foyer Lacombe.

Severson says he thought obtaining charity status would be a “shoe in,” since other Covenant organizations, such as Covenant Health and Covenant Living, are registered charities.

“I think now when an organization applies for charitable status, (CRA) wants you to be very specific about what you’re doing, and we probably described in too general of detail the fullness on what we did.”

He says when they were denied he was surprised, disappointed and “somewhat worried” whether or not the organization would get charity status when applying for a second time.

When the hospice first opened, Severson says they were expecting it to take a few years to gain traction in the community. Usually it takes between five and 10 years to start seeing donations flow in.

However, the case was different in St. Albert. Within three months of opening the Foyer Lacombe facility, SASHA – which is operating as Foyer Lacombe’s foundation – was overwhelmed with pledges and donations from individuals and organizations.

Van Bostelen says he hopes that same momentum will continue now that Covenant Care has obtained charity status.

SASHA has set a $65,000 fundraising goal for Foyer Lacombe this year, which will go towards items such as an inflatable bed for patients with bedsores, oxygen filtration into bedrooms and outdoor furniture for the facility.

While Alberta Health Services does fund the basic needs of the facility, any add-ons to make life more enjoyable for patients are left to fundraising dollars.

Mavis Donnelly, member of SASHA, says she’s glad Covenant Care is now a charity.

It was disappointing when they couldn’t get the donations because of all the hard work people had put in,” she says. “It was good news to hear that we could move forward.