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LIGHT OF LIFE

Hospice of SJ tree twinkles & shines for lost loved ones

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LIGHT OF LIFE

Family friend Marco Cruz (R) and Luis Rodriguez, son of the late Luis E. Rodriguez, flip the switch in his honor to light the tree.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED December 5, 2013 1:14 a.m.

Myrna Javrie looked at the list.

Her finger scanned one sheet. Then a second. And then a third.

She finally found the name. John Jarvie.

He passed away on Feb. 8 after a battle with cancer, and it was a crushing blow no doubt. But as she looked at the paper tucked behind the sheet of Plexiglas on the corner of North Street and Cottage Ave. – the white panes on the corner of the Doctors Hospital of Manteca campus – Jarvie didn’t cry.

She knew that the organization that she was there to support – Hospice of San Joaquin – had served her husband, and her family, well. And when they flipped the switch for the 22nd straight time and lit up the tree that will stay lit up through the holiday season for all to see, one of those bright bulbs will be in remembrance of him.

“I don’t think I could have gone through that without them,” Jarvie said of Hospice’s in-home care. “They were so good and so helpful. And I tell people that every chance I get – they made such a difference and I think people should know that.”

More than 100 people braved the cold weather and packed into the tight corner Wednesday night to pay tribute to those that they’ve lost and the organization that strives to improve the end-life experience for those who are suffering.

For 10-year-old Luis Rodriguez Jr. – who flipped the giant switch that officially lit the tree – Hospice meant the people that came in to take care of his ailing father and help his family in any way possible. He talked about how one of the caretakers gave him a rock inscribed with “never give up” up on it and how another encouraged him to finish a puzzle he had been struggling to complete.

Family friend Marco Cruz said that Maria, Michelle and Rosa – all Hospice staffers – helped keep Luis Rodriguez from suffering, and prepared the family for what they ultimately knew was coming. Losing him was still devastating, but knowing that he got the care that he so desperately needed and deserved was comforting, Cruz said, to say the least.

Stories like those that the Jarvies and the Rodriguezes can recount aren’t uncommon for Hospice of San Joaquin Community Outreach Director Gene Acevedo to hear. Being able to provide the best end-stage care for patients has always been the organization’s mission, and San Joaquin County residents have always supported the organization, which relies on roughly 25 percent of its annual operating budget from fundraising.

But it’s through programs like the Tree of Lights, Acevedo said, that those that are left behind get a chance to not only say goodbye, but that those that are gone are not forgotten.

“What’s most impactful about it is that it’s an opportunity for the bereaved to light a light and remember those that are no longer with us,” he said. “That’s an important thing for families that have recently lost a loved one. It’s a great chance for Hospice to give back to the community.”

The event was sponsored by PG&E, 99.3 KJOY, Bank of Stockton, Doctors Hospital of Manteca, Wells Fargo The Private Bank, Photo Ulmer and Chase Chevrolet.

A total of seven trees will be lit throughout the county: at Doctors Hospital of Manteca, San Joaquin Delta College, the City of Lodi offices, West Valley Mall, the Rio Vista Chamber of Commerce, Ripon City Hall and the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.

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