On December 8, families and friends gathered together on village greens in 11 communities across Northeast Connecticut for Day Kimball Healthcare’s (DKH) 30th annual Tree of Life Ceremony. This year’s community celebration of holiday carols, hope and healing, and magical lighting of the “Hospice Tree of Life” has raised more than $28,000 to support hospice and palliative care services in the region.
“Tree of Life is one of the most significant fundraising opportunities for the community to support hospice and palliative care services for individuals and families who are in need,” said DKH Development Director, Kristen Willis. “Most importantly, the ceremony is a deeply personal way to celebrate a loved one, honor a caregiver, and pay tribute to so many remarkable individuals who have forever left their mark on our community and in our hearts.”
The purchase of memorial lights on each community’s Tree of Life benefits the work done by Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut, a service division of Day Kimball Healthcare at Home, to enhance the lives of seriously and terminally ill patients and their families. Skilled and experienced professionals and trained volunteers provide care through an individualized plan that meets the physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and emotional needs of each patient and their families throughout end-of-life and bereavement care.
“I do this in memory of my wife Ruth, who was admitted to the Hospice program in February 2003,” said this year’s Tree of Life Chairperson, Roger C. Franklin. “I observed first-hand the most compassionate and caring team of Hospice nurses and aides whose amazing skills and professionalism allowed my wife’s final days to be experienced pain-free and with a special kind of dignity. And for that reason, the Tree of Life ceremony is an opportunity to not only remember your loved ones who have passed on, but to honor those who continue to provide end of life care.”
With the help of local clergy, civic organizations, community members, and Hospice staff and volunteers, ceremonies were held in the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Danielson, Eastford, Griswold, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Sterling, Thompson and Woodstock. All locations had a tree decorated with colored lights, each bulb representing donations collected in memory of loved ones or honoring caregivers throughout the community. Activities at each location included holiday-themed musical entertainment by local chorus groups and the sharing of personal stories about the impact of hospice and palliative care on the lives of those served, culminating with the lighting of the ceremonial Tree of Life in a single glowing moment.
The funds raised through this event are used to support hospice and palliative patient care and services provided to the community not covered by insurance.
Top: Families and friends sing carols in honor and memory of all hospice patients and their families at the Eastford Congregational Church for the 30th annual Tree of Life ceremony.
Middle: Attendees caroling during the Tree of Life Ceremony held at Davis Park in Danielson to benefit Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut.
Bottom: Fortezza, 4th grade students from Mary Fisher School, lead attendees in Christmas carols at the lighting of the Tree of Life at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Thompson.