Memories Take Wing

Butterflies take flight at the Visiting Nurse Association to honor loved ones.

On Saturday, June 24th, the VNA’s Community Celebration of Life and Seventh Annual Butterfly Release took place.  The butterfly is a universal symbol of hope, and in many cultures it is a representation of the soul. Families of our hospice patients (and others) purchased butterflies in memory, or in honor of, their loved ones.  All proceeds were donated to our Hospice Programs.

The event, which was created to be a comfort to grieving families and to give them a feeling of peace and transformation for their loved one, began with a beautiful and very moving ceremony inside the building.

The program included special readings by our chaplain, The Rev. Donna Geiger and our Bereavement Coordinator, Zachary Adams. Our special guest emcee was Solomon Jones, an award-winning author/commentator and also the morning host for WURD 900 AM radio. Solomon read the names of all of the deceased with great respect and dignity. Family members told us afterwards how good it was to hear the name of their loved one spoken.

As we all went outside, we were handed a little, triangle-shaped envelope. Each envelope contained a fragile, painted-lady butterfly that we were about to release. The butterflies actually come from a butterfly nursery in New England. Before they began their journey to Philadelphia, the butterflies were put into a deep refrigerated state. When they arrived here, they were gently returned to room temperature and readied for release.

After following careful instructions on how to hold them gently and how to release them safely, everyone opened their envelope. After taking a moment to get acclimated, the butterflies fluttered their wings and flew skyward. All of the participants watched with joy and amazement as hundreds of butterflies swirled and flew into the beautiful, blue sky above.

The Junior Color Guard from Coatesville High School, which was there in honor of all of the veterans in our care, escorted everyone from the Butterfly Release ceremony over to our inaugural Community Celebration of Life. Members of our local East Falls community were also there for the festive event.

The fun included crafts and face painting for kids, a DJ for entertainment, water ice, pretzels, Cabot cheese, popcorn, and cotton candy. Local agencies and businesses were also in attendance, including the East Falls businesses Sankhya Yoga Studio, Rawk U School of Music, and our very own Engine 35!

We are grateful to everyone who took part in this special day and especially our colleagues and volunteers who helped make everything go smoothly.

About Maureen

Maureen is the Senior VP for Development for the VNA Hospice of Philadelphia; the only nonprofit, freestanding hospice unit in the Philadelphia Metro area.

Started over 125 years ago in Philly, the VNA was a pioneer in public-health nursing, and their “multi-disciplinary” approach to healthcare continues today.

Get Involved!  Volunteering at VNA Hospice of Philadelphia takes as little as 1-2 hours once per week but makes such a difference to the patients and their families. Opportunities include office support, Inpatient Unit visits, home visits, and special events. Call 215-581-2360 with questions or to start the application process (includes Background Check, Child Abuse History Clearance, TB testing, and comprehensive training which VNA pays for.)

About Maureen Murphy 9 Articles
Maureen is the Senior VP for Development for the VNA Hospice of Philadelphia; the only nonprofit, freestanding hospice unit in the Philadelphia Metro area. A dedicated team of healthcare pros, including nurses, chaplains, social workers, home health aides, and therapists (including therapy dogs!) — provide home health and hospice care to all, regardless of ability to pay.

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