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Hospice “Light Up a Life” Ceremony Scheduled for Dec. 5

| Date Posted: 11/13/2013

PINEHURST – Barbara Fox McWilliams loved the sound of water.

“It helped her to relax and think of the Lord,” says her husband, Charles McWilliams.

The outgoing chairman of the FirstHealth Hospice Foundation Network, McWilliams and others (family members and some “great friends”) had his late wife in mind when they endowed a water feature highlighting a garden project that will welcome supporters of FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care to the 2014 “Light Up a Life” program next year. Those who attend the 2013 program, scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5, will note signs of the project’s recent beginning.

“The official start date for the garden was Oct. 1,” McWilliams says, “and almost a year of planning and discussion took place before the shovel went into the ground. Phase I – within the circle around the center of the campus – should be complete sometime in the first quarter of next year.”

This year’s Light Up a Life, which traditionally supports the operations of FirstHealth Hospice, will allow members of the community also to support the Hospice Gardens, which will be a component of the spiritual and bereavement care provided to patients and their families.

According to McWilliams, the inspiration for the Hospice garden project came from the Healing Garden at the Clara McLean House on the campus of FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. Some of the same people who worked on the Clara’s House garden have also been involved in the planning and design of the Hospice project.

“The Clara’s House garden, stone works and water feature were so well-received by the community that the Hospice Committee wanted to carry it forward,” McWilliams says.

Moore County residents Lynda Acker (a Master Gardener and biologist) and Sally DeWinkeleer (a landscape architect) designed the Hospice garden, which will incorporate an existing lake into a design that will include a labyrinth and pathways as well as the water feature. Acker and Cassie Willis co-created the Clara’s House Healing Garden on which DeWinkeleer volunteered, helping with the initial installation and maintenance.

When the Hospice project is completed, the pathways will gravitate from a central gazebo-like Gathering Pavilion with one pathway extending about 100 feet to the lake.

The three stages of a labyrinth path will take visitors on an “inward journey” to a “center” or place of “meditative peace” and then to an “outward journey” with a “relationship” theme.

With additional phases of the project scheduled to get under way in 2014 and 2015, fundraising is continuing and naming opportunities are still available.

“Having a beautiful place to walk, listen and reflect is the healing needed by everyone who has lost a loved one,” McWilliams says. “The gardens will complement the stand-alone chapel, and the gardens can be enjoyed by the patients staying at the Hospice House and their families. A special consideration for the placement of the water feature was its convenience for the staff to enjoy the beauty when walking between the Hospice House and the Administration Building.”

As his service as chair of the Hospice Foundation Network comes to an end, McWilliams says it has been a meaningful time for him.

“Serving on the Hospice Foundation Network was very rewarding because it meant working with an organization whose goal is making life last the whole time,” he says. “FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care is the only not-for-profit hospice organization in Moore County, and no one is ever turned away. The continued support and love from this community make this a reality every day.”

The 2013 FirstHealth Hospice Foundation “Light Up a Life” program will be held Thursday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m. on the campus of FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care, 251 Campground Road, Pinehurst. A reception will follow the tree-lighting ceremony. Anyone interested in dedicating a light in honor or in memory of a love one can call (910) 695-7500.

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