For the past 29 years, residents have had a chance to remember lost loved ones through the annual Hospice Care "Light up a Life" campaign.
The campaign is a fund-raiser with earnings contributed in full to the patient family support fund, which offers services at no cost to those in need of hospice care.
"No one is turned away from our services," marketing project coordinator Mike Elza said.
Photo courtesy of Mountain Hospice
The memory of loved ones lost is brilliant in the night at the Veteran’s trees in Elkins. The string lights are part of the Mountain Hospice ‘Light of Life’ campaign.
Mountain Hospice is an in-home program designed to assist patients and their families to live as fully as possible during a terminal illness, Elza said.
"What we do is focus on the relief of both physical and emotional pain, as well as other symptoms," he said.
Mountain Hospice services include covering 100 percent of the cost of medicines related to the treatment of terminal illness, chaplains for spiritual care, physician-directed care, social work and counseling services..
For those who donate to the campaign, it's more than just a fund-raiser, it's a tradition honoring the life of a friend or family member each year while helping those individuals and families currently in need. Individuals who make a donation get to have a string of lights, an ornament or a keepsake angel placed on a tree at one of the participating locations.
"It's just a way of reflecting on the memory, keeping the memory alive of the person," Elza said. "It's a way for the families not only to renew and remember the person, but it's a way for all the employees of Mountain Hospice that became part of that family while they were taking care of the loved one to reminisce and remember all of the good times and all of the person that has passed."
There are also other ways to honor lost loved ones through the campaign. Individuals can purchase permanent bricks for the Memorial Garden behind the Hospice Care Center in Belington. Individuals can also make a donation toward a plaque in the Memorial Garden. Every person who is honored with a tree is remembered in a memory book on display through the holiday season. The campaign began in November, and the holiday season doesn't usually bring an end to the campaign.
"Honestly, this campaign usually goes up into February," Elza said. "We have people that usually just continue to, I guess, have the funding and continue to donate and remember a loved one. It actually continues past Christmas."
Although Mountain Hospice got its start in Belington, the Light of Life trees are lit up in areas beyond just Barbour County. Some trees are located at the Hartland Nursing Home in Keyser, the Veterans Monument in Randolph County, the Barbour County Courthouse in Philippi, among other locations in participating counties. As the Mountain Hospice organization grew, it was expanded to include Barbour, Mineral, Randolph, Tucker, Pendleton, Pocahontas and Grant counties.
"It's a little bit more personal to have trees in each county," Director of Development Shannon Putnam said.
Established in Barbour County in 1991, the Hospice of Barbour County that was built in 1994 was renamed Mountain Hospice. Mountain Hospice got its start in Barbour County from a group of caring citizens who recognized the needs of people in their community who were dying of non-curable illnesses and were often isolated in their hospital rooms or homes.
The long-standing goal of Mountain Hospice is to provide "comfort and compassion when it's needed most."
Those caring founders grew and expanded Mountain Hospice to provide services to an increasing number of terminally ill patients and their families through hard work and nurturing. Together with volunteers, the founders generated funds and donations that have helped Mountain Hospice continue to grow and to become one of the most outstanding hospices in the state.