Sunset Palliative Care held its first Dinner of Hope in a couple of years. It's yet another annual event that COVID placed on pause. The Sharpe Sisters played with special guest Mavis Brennan on keyboard, and everyone enjoyed a turkey dinner and a special candle lighting ceremony.
Executive director Aldene Moroz explains what the evening's all about.
"In the last two years, we were not able to hold our Christmas Dinner of Hope. And tonight we were, and we're just thrilled with the turnout," says Moroz. "We can't believe it. We have 190 people here, and that's exceeded our expectations."
She notes the dinner is a time for people to come together who've lost a loved one recently, or many years ago.
"They sit with other people who are experiencing the same kind of feelings at this time of year," continues Moroz. "Christmas is the most difficult time of year to go through when you have lost a family member. So, we have music, food, some talking to go on, light special candles, and our Memory Tree is here so they can write a special memory and place it on the tree."
Moroz thanks all who supported the organization in the last three, difficult years. She says they had 30 volunteers, which she calls her wonderful angels who helped from start to clean-up. She says the food was fantastic as usual, making her very proud of her group.
Doddy Blight says she always makes it a point to attend the dinner. She notes they haven't had this much music in past events.
"I enjoyed the Sharpe Sisters," says Blight. "It's nice to be back doing it and celebrate Christmas that way. I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and that they, hopefully, remember the Reason for the Season."
Kevin Lelievre says it was his first night for the Dinner of Hope.
"I was invited by a friend," says Lelievre. "My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The food was great. The atmosphere was great. The decorations and the music... from start to finish it was just a really enjoyable evening. It's a good way to start off the Christmas season."
He notes he lost his oldest sister to cancer two years ago. Lelievre adds it's a great way to remember a loved one, enjoy a beautiful night and raise some money for a good cause.
Lori Jordan very recently lost a very close loved one, and notes it's her first time at the dinner, as well.
"It's absolutely fantastic. It's very well-organized, and there are wonderful people here," says Jordan. "You can't say anything bad, because it's super."
She notes the evening does help those in bereavement.
"It's a really good crowd," continues Jordan. "It's got so much meaning with the Tree, and with the lighting of the candles. Those sorts of things have been absolutely wonderful. Really, I just want to thank everybody for putting this on. It's the first time and I really have enjoyed it."
Kathy Bryce is one of the Sharpe Sisters and also executive director of Herman Prior Activity Centre. She expresses her thoughts on performing at this special night at the location of her organization.
"It's wonderful. It's been so long that we've been able to get out and sing," explains Bryce. "We love singing for Sunset Palliative Care. They're a very wonderful captive audience. We had fun."
She adds it's always great to partner with Sunset Palliative Care and working with the community together.
"That happens a lot here at Herman Prior," adds Bryce. "With the Sharpe Sisters singing here, it all is a really good mix. We love it."
She says it was a little nerve-wracking to sing after a couple years without any large concert.
"You're out of the swing of things," notes Bryce. "You're back to having nerves up on the stage. But other than that, just to get singing. . . it all falls into place and it's a lot of fun."