2010-12-16 / Living

Genesys Hospice Care lights Memory Tree

BY AMANDA BRANIECKI 810-452-2647 • ABRANIECKI@MIHOMEPAPER.COM

Photo by Amanda Braniecki When the memory tree was first started 18 years ago, it was only a 6-foot tree. Since then, the popularity of the idea has grown and so has the tree as it is now 18-feet tall and features more than 200 gold hearts and thousands of purple hearts honoring those that have passed from around the community. Photo by Amanda Braniecki When the memory tree was first started 18 years ago, it was only a 6-foot tree. Since then, the popularity of the idea has grown and so has the tree as it is now 18-feet tall and features more than 200 gold hearts and thousands of purple hearts honoring those that have passed from around the community. GOODRICH — Thousands of hearts donned the memory tree in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre as family and friends gathered to remember their loved ones that have passed.

The event marked the 18th year Genesys Hospice Care Center has hosted the Memory Tree lighting ceremony which featured the lighting of the 18-foot tree, musical performances, holiday caroling and refreshments.

On Nov. 1, the hospice sent out letters to the families of those who lost a loved one asking for them to honor their family member with a heart that will bear their names and hang on the tree from Nov. 21 until Jan. 4.

Those who donated any amount of money received a purple heart with their loved one’s name on that hung on the tree. For those that do not want to donate every, the hospice offers a one-time donation of $500 which gets them a gold heart with their loved one’s name that will be saved and hung on the tree every year.

Hank Messing, coordinator of spiritual care and grief support with Genesys Hospice, said the holidays are always a tough time for these families to go through, but he feels this ceremony helps get them through this difficult time and ensures that the memory of those lost is lives on.

“Some people have been coming out to this for 10 years to remember someone who died years ago, and for other people, as you can tell by the tears in their eyes, it is very fresh and new,” said Messing. “That is why we ask as many of our staff involved in our hospice community to come out so they can be supportive and reconnect with these families, because we are there during a very tender and sensitive time. It can be a real sentimental time to reconnect with the people.”

Third year attendee, Terry Christner said the event brings a sense of peace to her family.

“It is very nice and comforting for my dad,” Chistner said. “It is for our mom so it is a way of bringing in the holiday for us.”

All donations received from the hearts will go toward room renovations and enhancements at Genesys Hospice in Goodrich and Camp Brave Hearts, a local summer weekend grief camp for children.

Those that would still like to purchase a heart can contact Genesys Hospice at 810-636-5010.

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