CORNWALL, Ontario – The holidays are often associated with feelings of joy, but they can also be a time of sorrow, especially for those who have lost a loved one.
Bereaved Families of Ontario-Cornwall held its 22nd annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. at Cornwall Square. Throughout the ceremony, poems were read by clients of the organization, songs were sung by a choir — including Bless This Tree — a song written especially for the organization, and a heartfelt testimonial was given by client Huguette Belanger.
“We see a lot of clients one-on-one at this time of year…some have a difficult time during the holidays,” said Gisèle Roy, the organization’s facilitator. Roy explained that both new and returning clients will seek assistance over the holidays.
During the ceremony, Roy spoke about how the loss of a loved one can lead to the loss of family traditions, events and ultimately a loss of hope. Community members were invited to hang paper ornaments with the names of their loved ones on the tree as it stands in quiet remembrance.
Roy said that donations are the livelihood of the organization as Bereaved Families does not receive any outside funding. Roy is very thankful to have recently received $5,500 from the Ghost Walk for Charity event. She is hoping to broaden partnerships and sponsorships to keep the organization in the community.
“It’s impossible to raise all of our operating budget in fundraisers. We would really like to create sponsorships with businesses and people who would be able to partner up with us, or perhaps they could create a fundraiser and host a fundraiser to support Bereaved Families,” she said.
Roy knows that many community members have benefitted from the support offered by the organization. She believes that the organization’s services are unique as peer support is offered and all volunteers have experienced loss as well.
“In 33 years, there are a lot of people who we have helped,” she said.
Bereaved Families will host a candle lighting service on Wednesday Dec. 12 at Knox-St. Paul’s United Church.