LAURIUM - The holiday season is about family and for those that have lost a loved one, the Tree of Love program at Aspirus Keweenaw gives those family members the chance to remember, share stories and bond with others in similar positions.
Although the Tree of Love ceremony is used to remember loved ones, it also serves as a fundraiser.
"The money we make from selling lights, bells, angels and stars is used for purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for the hospital," said Doris Julio, hospital auxiliary member.
Ashley Curtis/Daily Mining Gazette
Mary Ilenich and Marie Massi remember and honor loved ones during the lighting of the Tree of Love ceremony on Monday night.
The tree-lighting ceremony was held Monday night in the hospital conference room filled with approximately 65 people there to recognize their loved ones. During the ceremony, both speakers and entertainment were provided.
"It's an opportunity to take a pause and remember somebody special or honor someone special in our lives," said Chuck Nelson, Aspirus regional chief executive officer. "I think it's a unique opportunity because at this time we can be emotional and you can think about someone special in your life."
Nineteen years ago, Jan Jurmu began the program at Aspirus to remember her daughter, Jamie Lynn, who died at the age of 14. Although the holiday season can be difficult, Jurmu said it was her daughter's high energy and spirit that moved her onward.
"We had to redefine the norm of doing thingss with Jamie to doing things in her memory. I always think that because Jamie lived life with her pants on fire, that I was determined to keep the pants burning," Jurmu said.
Following Jurmu's talk on the beginning of the Tree of Love program, Dr. Manuel Duron, general surgeon at Aspirus Keweenaw, spoke on remembering and honoring loved ones and shared stories of those recognized on the tree.
"There's no escaping it; losing a loved one hurts. A light, a bell, an angel, a star - to remember, to honor," Duron said. "Thank you Jan for remembering and honoring your daughter, Jamie Lynn, and for giving us at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital a means by which we can also remember and honor lost loved ones, recognize and honor our living friends and family, while raising money for Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital."
As Duron mentioned, people could purchase lights, bells, angels or stars to adorn the tree in the hospital lobby. At the end of the ceremony, Duron lit a smaller tree in the conference room; at the time, the tree in the lobby was lit. At this time, David Crowley led the audience members in "Silent Night."
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited to review a list of those honored and remembered on the tree, take home their bell, angel or star and talk with others during a small reception.
Dan Zubiena of Laurium has been attending the ceremony since 2006 to honor and remember his mother who was an auxiliary member, while Mary Ilenich and Marie Massi come both as part of the hospital auxiliary and to remember loved ones.
"It's important to remember and honor them, and we're supporting the auxiliary and the hospital," Ilenich said.