'Tree of Lights' ceremony honors memory of loved ones

LAKE COUNTY — A touching “Tree of Lights” memorial service was held last  week at the Hollister Senior Center in Baldwin.   The brief program, organized by Hospice of Michigan, has become an annual tradition and drew several  people who wanted to remember departed relatives and friends in this special way.

The ceremony began with a prayer led by Rev. Joe Hilyard, Hospice Grief counselor,  and the reading by Virginia Sonefeld of a poem called “Light a Light.”    This was particularly appropriate as each year, Hospice decorates a Christmas tree with festive colored lights; then, for every donation, a colored light is replaced by a white light, making a particularly pretty effect.   This year, donations to the campaign totaled an impressive $1,100.

The highlight of the gathering was, as always, the reading of a list of names of people  who have passed away but are by no means forgotten.    Volunteers Vicki Kelly and Ann Walters read 63 names in all.   “This is  really personal to all the people here,” Vicki noted.  “Hearing some of the names is a very special thing to me — I still miss them.”

Another long-time Hospice supporter, Susie Tripp, who was at last week’s ceremony, added, “I have been coming to the ‘Tree of Lights’ reading for a number of years now.  It gives us a kind of ownership of the memory of our loved ones and it’s a wonderful way to honor them.”

Special thanks go out to the following generous local sponsors:

  • Baldwin Ace Hardware
  • Baldwin Business Center
  • Baldwin CSG (Community Support Group)
  • Duddles Tree Farm
  • Jim and Cinda Rock
  • The Lake County Star
  • Lake Osceola State Bank
  • Pompeii’s Pizza
  • The Village Restaurant
  • Peacock Auxiliary 5315 V.F.W.

Proceeds from the fund-raising drive help to support Hospice of Michigan and are used to benefit people in the Lake County area.   The mission of Hospice is to support and comfort those patients who are suffering from life-threatening illness and to lend a hand to families who are in special need.  In addition to practical expertise on such matters as estate planning and other final arrangements,  Hospice helps  people to cope emotionally  and offers grief counseling.  Before this service was available, many health-care providers report, a death in the family could be a “pretty horrific experience — a truly terrible ordeal.”   Hospice, they note, provides a sense of comfort and security, and genuinely improves the quality of life for the terminally ill, with such things as pain management and control of breathing issues.   It is said that, “Patients often fall a little bit in love with their Hospice nurses!”

Hospice is always looking for volunteers, and reminds those who might be interested that they “don’t need to commit huge blocks of their time.”  For more  information about this organization, contact Jean Taylor, the Volunteer Service Manager, at 845-3423,  or visit the website at www.hom,org, or call (616) 356-5266.