Light Up A Life for loved ones

Judy Salamacha
Judy Salamacha

In a unique collaboration this holiday season, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County and Wilshire Hospice (formerly known as Hospice Partners of the Central Coast) will combine efforts at four of nine sites presenting Light Up A Life memorial ceremonies.

Hospice SLO has offered the program since 1984 and Wilshire Hospice since 1998. In 2013, they’ll co-present at the San Luis Obispo Mission, Morro Bay’s Coalesce Book Store, Arroyo Grande’s Village Gazebo and Paso Robles City Park.

“We’ve been trying for years to combine efforts,” said Laurie Smith, regional administrator of Wilshire Hospice. “We have the same message.”

Kris Kington-Barker, executive director of Hospice SLO, explained the purpose of the ceremonies, with more scheduled in Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Cambria, Atascadero and Nipomo through Dec. 9.

“These are small moments in time remembering loved ones who will be missed during the holidays. For many the music, poetry and lighting of candles help get participants

into the joy of the season. There is something healing about sharing time with others who have experienced loss. Hearing names read aloud honors them.”

Hospice of SLO is a nonprofit agency that supports the community in coping with loss and promoting healing by providing free counseling, community education and volunteer support to those grieving a death or dealing with long-term illness and end-of-life issues. Wilshire Hospice provides end-of-life care for patients and families in the comfort and dignity of their homes while facing issues together with the support of medically-based services. With a doctor’s referral, Medicare and insurance provides services up to six months. Officials from both organizations understand that family support is ongoing, particularly during the holidays.

The Estero Bay has lost many “friends” in the recent past who could and should be remembered at a Light Up A Life memorial ceremony. Although space does not allow mention of all who have contributed in diverse ways to our communities, the following are a representative few we’ve lost:

Sylvia Smith and Julie Orr both were instrumental in achieving many positive changes in the Los Osos/Baywood Park community. The Orr family

also lost their matriarch, Jane Orr, this year. At Wilmar Tognazzini’s recent memorial in Morro Bay, students and family alike recognized him for teaching them life lessons and giving back to their communities. The Cayucos Land Conservancy is grateful forever for contributions made by Roger Lyons. Cayucans miss seeing Betty Hall tending her plantings at Old Creek Road’s Triangle, Bob Lyons’ history of Cayucos, and Pat McKaye’s volunteer spirit and organizational skills at the Cayucos Senior Center.

Light Up A Life at Coalesce Book Store is Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Find a schedule of all the ceremonies at www.hospiceslo.org or www.wilshirehcs.org.

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.