On Thursday, November 22nd BFO Durham Region held its annual Angels’ Tree of Light ceremony at the Durham District School Board. A large crowd was in attendance. This year, the angel chosen featured an angel silhouetted within a circle. The tree looked so beautiful, adorned with over 600 angels and white lights. Each angel had the name of a loved one handwritten on gold ribbon. Each one represented a loved one sadly missed by their families and friends throughout the year but especially now during the holiday season.
Jane Carter (Executive Director, BFO Durham) welcomed everyone to the ceremony with soothing words as this can be a difficult time, especially for those experiencing a loss for the first time. She was ably assisted by Gary Goswell (Chair, Board of Directors, BFO Durham).
Opening Remarks were given by Rev. Maureen McLellan. Her gentle words gave advice, encouragement and support to the audience. She touched on her own experiences of loss and spoke with empathy.
This year, the tree was dedicated by Kelly Fitzpatrick in memory of her daughter, Racquel Granato. Kelly spoke eloquently of the challenges faced by all who have lost a loved one, especially at this time of year. She encouraged all present to reach out to each other and realize that we are not alone. In closing, using the title of the book in which Racquel’s poem is published, Kelly wished all present, “Serenity”.
Sherry and Stephen Stickney and family had the honour of lighting our tree this year, in memory of their son and brother, Journey and also in memory of Sherry’s sister, Dove. As the lights in the auditorium dimmed, only the tree shone out in the darkness. There was a moment of silence for reflection.
Following the reflection, there was a musical tribute to the “angels”.
Sabrina Moreino performed, “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)”, in memory of her sister Paulina Mary and then Jonathan Onley performed, “When The Rain Comes”, in memory of his daughter Sarah. Both performances were very moving and received much deserved applause from the audience.
Finally, the ceremony concluded with the Responsive Reading led by Beth Bryan and her sister Denise Bailey in memory of their daughter/niece, Heather.
After the ceremony, there was an opportunity to mingle and share stories over light refreshments.
This special evening could not have taken place without the hard work and dedication of the following people:
Angel Tree Committee: Caroline Goswell (Chair), Beth Bryan, Bev Campbell, Jane Carter, Marlene Charewicz, Anita Fellows, Denise Love, Sharon Sears, Kirsty Sinclair, Joyce Smith, Linda Watson and Magda Zoelman. Also a big thank you to all our young (and young at heart!) volunteers who helped the night before with set up and all the hard work before, during and after the ceremony.
A special thanks to the office volunteers, Beth Bryan, Bev Campbell and Marlene Charewicz and to Marian Rehr for volunteering each year at the donations table.
Many thanks to John McManus for the soothing strains of guitar music prior to the ceremony and thanks also to Tara Rekker-Geisbrecht for providing the beautiful poinsettias.
Finally, thanks to the following sponsors who contribute to the success of this event:
- Minute Man Press (Whitby)
- M&M Meat Shops (Joyce & Paul Smith)
- McDonalds Whitby (Marlene MacKinnon)
- Park Plastic Products Inc. (Moe Aftab, Sales Manager)
This annual ceremony is very special to all of us at BFO Durham. We hope it provided comfort and support to all who attended.