Volunteers Wendy Hodges and Gesine Welch manned the Langley Hospice Society’s memorial tree at Willowbrook Shopping Centre recently. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Memory tree celebrates lives of loved ones lost

Langley Hospice Society offers grieving family and friends chance to pay tribute at Willowbrook mall

This can be the most emotional time of the year for those whose family and friends are no longer with them.

Paper ornaments decorating the memorial tree at Willowbrook Shopping Centre give mall visitors an opportunity to remember and reflect on loved ones lost.

Some are very specific, others much more general. For example, one simply reads, “Mom Forever missed.”

The tree isn’t so much about raising funds for the Langley Hospice Society, although donations are gratefully accepted on site.

It’s more about letting people know the society exists and the different bereavement programs it offers to the community.

“It’s just to let the public know that this (programs through the society) is in fact available, and let people know about hospice,” said Gesine Welch, a society volunteer of nine years.

“This is to publicize the fact that palliative care is available and there are programs for children and teenagers, as well,” Welch said. “It’s not just for elderly folk, it’s for young people, too.”

Wendy Hodges volunteered on Friday at the tree and memory book in the mall. She is fairly new to the society and began volunteering because hospice was there for her during very difficult time of her life in Toronto.

“It’s always been in my heart to do this kind of work, as well,” she said. “And it’s a great organization.”

Hodges said the support hospice workers offer family members of people in their final days is immeasurable.

“Sometimes it’s the hug of someone who isn’t so emotionally attached, sometimes it’s a listening ear, so it’s a very special service,” Hodges said.

Welch lost her husband some time ago and he passed before he could receive hospice care.

“He was a volunteer, also for hospice,” she said.

Help furnish new hospice

A new 15-bed hospice residence is being built on the grounds of Langley Memorial Hospital and the society is looking for community support to help raise an additional $1 million to furnish and outfit it.

The residence will:

• increase the community bed count to 15 private private rooms — an increase of five beds from the 10 semi-private rooms currently available in the interim residence;

• include the addition of Langley’s first bariatric room so that these patients can access palliative care in their home community rather than being transferred elsewhere; and, according to the society

•save the health care system up to $476,000 annually with better patient flow out of acute care, and decrease waitlists to access the Langley Hospice Residence.

You can donate online at www.langleyhospice.com/new-residence/. For more information on other ways to give, email info@langleyhospice.com, or call (604) 530-1115.

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