Journal Pioneer - 2021-11-24


Hospice P.E.I. volunteer honours late sister during Let Their Light Shine campaign


RYAN CADMAN ryan.cadman

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. When it comes to at-home care for seniors, families want to be at ease knowing their loved ones are in good hands. Lynda Leard said when her late sister, Doreen Huestis, began having declining health issues near the end of her life while living alone in Summerside, the family decided to call Hospice P.E.I. “She was always independent and was adamant about living alone in her duplex, even after her husband passed away,” said Leard. “When her health began to decline, she became much weaker and needed more assistance with tasks like eating, getting her mail or sometimes bathing.” Leard, a fellow Hospice P.E.I. volunteer in West Prince, said she and the rest of her family were confident in the comforting care her sister was receiving.” “With me in Mill River, two of her children in Nova Scotia and another on P.E.I., there wasn’t always someone in the family around to help her,” she said. “The supervising nurses and volunteers at hospice made everything special and comfortable for her in the end.” Huestis was admitted to the Prince County Hospital in early January 2021 before she died on Jan. 27. “She always remained strong in those times and was never one to complain,” said Leard. Leard was chosen to hang the first decoration on the Memory Tree in honour of her sister during the 27th annual Hospice P.E.I. Let Their Light Shine kickoff event, at Superstore in Summerside on Monday, Nov. 22. She wrote her sisters name on the decoration before hanging it on the Memory Tree. Before the end of the campaign, Islanders are expected to fill the tree with the names of departed loved ones. “I still miss my sister, so this is certainly an honour for me. I not only think about my sister in these moments but also all the other people who have lost family or friends in the last two years and have been wanting to honour them as well.” Volunteering for more than 20 years with Hospice P.E.I., Leard said this is her first year hanging a name on the tree instead of watching others. "Sitting at the tree, when you have people come up and make a donation in memory of someone, they always have a story to tell, and we are always very grateful to hear what they have to say. I’m now grateful to be able to share my sister’s story.” Hospice P.E.I. Let Their Light Shine event co-ordinator MacKenzie Hope said the annual event is making its in-person return with five Memory Tree donation locations across the Island in November and December. “We heard from so many people how this event has become a tradition for a lot of families and a special way for them to remember somebody that they loved so dear.” On Monday-Saturday from Nov. 22 until Dec. 5 at Superstore in Summerside, volunteers will be around from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accept donations and give residents cards to hang on the memory tree. Volunteers will also be around on Sundays from 12-6 p.m., with all donations going directly to Hospice P.E.I. “Donations are crucial for the hospice right now; we aren’t government-funded, and our fundraising events have been cut back the past two years due to COVID-19. So, we are putting all donations towards increasing our services and continuing to provide care for Islanders.” Hope said donations of all amounts are accepted and can be paid with cash, cheque or credit card. “Of course, if someone wants to come and hang a memory card and cannot make a donation, they will not be turned away.” With the pandemic changing the way people have been grieving the loss of loved ones, she hopes the campaign will help Islanders find the time to remember those who have meant so much to them. "Those who weren't able to bring their family together for funeral or mass, things we are used to, we can give people that little moment to slow down to honour the memories they have of those they have lost.”


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