Last year, Katie's Cottage saw 892 rooms rented at the unique rural respite home across from Boundary Trails Health Centre. Opened in 2016, the home saw over 600 rooms rented in its first year.
"The most important thing is... the cottage is growing. It's a slow process and we can still take more people, but it's growing," Katie Cares' Ruth Reimer says.
She notes guests come from across Manitoba including Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Steinbach, Swan River and as far north as Flin Flon, The Pas, and Churchill. International guests have also hailed from the United States, Mexico, Australia, and England.
The haven was originally the dream of Kaitlyn Reimer, who founded the charity, Katie Cares, before passing away in 2012.
"Kaitlyn's dream is being fulfilled... people are being taken care of here. Once they walk through those doors there's somebody here to help them, whether it's to provide a cup of coffee or a hot meal, or a place to stay," Ruth says.
Katie Cares also provides care packages to children in hospital. Inside each, recipients will find fun and comforting treasures like crossword puzzles, colouring books, markers, and a teddy bear. Care bags are given out in four hospitals, including Portage, Winkler/Morden (BTHC), Carman, and Altona.
However, Ruth says Kaitlyn always envisioned a place where her family could stay while she received treatment at Boundary Trails Health Centre (BTHC) between Morden and Winkler. The Katie's Cottage project was announced October 2014. In less than two years, communities from across Southern Manitoba and beyond helped raise nearly $600,000 for the project.