Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX student raising funds for Koster Huis, giving back to community

July 20th, 2021
Sophie Sawler

When StFX student Sophie Sawler saw that the residents of Koster Huis, a Small Options home in her home community of Mabou, NS, were unable to work due to COVID-19, the fourth year BASc Health student wanted to see if she could do something to help. 

That was summer 2020. Since then, Ms. Sawler, who is taking a biomedical major and social determinant of health minor at StFX, has been making and selling rosaries and jewelry, raising so far over $2,000 to help benefit the residents.

“I started working at Koster Huis in the winter of 2020 as a continuing care assistant. When COVID hit Nova Scotia I directly saw the impact it had on the residents and how it disrupted their routine,” she says, recalling how over a year ago, the residents at Koster Huis were at work around Inverness County with jobs that were an integral component of their weekly schedule.

“When COVID-19 arrived to Nova Scotia, the residents at Koster Huis were not able to go to work and subsequently collect any pay or reap the emotional rewards of having a fulfilling activity to perform throughout the week. Working in the community is an important aspect of the residents’ daily life as it provides them with a sense of occupational purpose, teaches them important skills and allows them to be social.” 

She says she and the staff at Koster Huis decided they needed to find a way to integrate activities in their day to fulfill the gap of their lost jobs. That’s s how the rosary/jewelry idea was developed. 

In her spare time, between keeping up with studies and extracurriculars, and working as a house director in Riley Hall, she made and sold rosaries and jewelry through her social media platforms with all profits going to the residents at Koster Huis. 

“The money I raised has been used to book several months of rental space at a local community center where the residents have been going several days a week to engage in fun and educational activities. I also had the opportunity to take the residents from Koster Huis on several delivery trips, in which we drove around Inverness County and delivered the products that were sold - I think they enjoy being part of the process and it is extremely fun to spend time with the residents as our own little business team.”

Ms. Sawler says she has always enjoyed being involved in her community.

“It's what I love so much about living in a small village in Cape Breton and it also is what I love about being at StFX. The size of our community is small, but the support is immense. People have always shown me support in these communities, and I want to return the favour. COVID gave me the opportunity to recognize a group of people that needed my help and I wanted to seize the opportunity by offering it.” 

She says she’s learned a lot about running this small business and trying to maximize the ways she can make money for the residents at Koster Huis. 

Anyone interested in purchasing a rosary or a piece of jewelry to support this fundraiser can reach out to Ms. Sawler via her Facebook Platform at Sophie Sawler or email at


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