On December 2, families and friends gathered together on village greens in 11 communities across Northeast Connecticut for Day Kimball Healthcare’s 29th annual Tree of Life Ceremony. This year’s community celebration of Christmas 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.
“This event has become a beloved tradition in Northeast Connecticut. The 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 today,” said Day Kimball Healthcare’s Development Director Kristen Willis. “It’s a time to come together to celebrate and reflect on the lives of those you love, as well as the hospice staff and volunteers who have accompanied us on our journey.”
The purchase of memorial lights on each community's Tree of Life benefits the work done by Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut, a service 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. In 2017, the hospice team cared for 148 patients and families.
“I do this in memory of my mother, Florence Mayhew who passed away from cancer,” said this year’s Tree of Life Chairperson Holly Gilbert. Holly is a cancer survivor and 29-year hospice volunteer. “I know how important hospice is for both the patient and their family. Knowing someone is there for you, that you are cared for and loved is so important. Many times there are no words that need to be offered, only your presence. The lights on the trees are a symbol of hope and healing and a way to keep this compassionate care going.”
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 donation’s 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.
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. More information about the event can be found at www.daykimball.org/TreeOfLife.
Top: Families and friends sing carols in honor and memory of all hospice patients and their families at the Eastford Congregational Church for the annual Tree of Life ceremony.
Middle: Students lead attendees in Christmas songs at the lighting of the Tree of Life at the Creamery Brook Retirement Village in Brooklyn.
Bottom: Attendees at the Tree of Life Ceremony held at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Thompson admire the tree after it is lit.