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Loved ones honored at Doctors Hospital tree lighting
People gather to look for names on the Hospice memory board during the Hospice of San Joaquin 24th Annual Tree Of Lights Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by Doctors Hospital of Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Mariah Dominguez has experience her share of grief in her young life.
The New Haven Elementary School seventh-grade student took time to remember those close to her who’ve passed at Wednesday’s Hospice of San Joaquin Tree of Lights event at Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
Included was William “Bill” Freitas.
“He was my dad,” said Bill Freitas, Dominguez’s grandfather. “He had a medical condition that required four years of hospice care.”
For that, the youngster was inspired to use her artistic skills to draw up the cover picture displayed on program of the 24th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.
However, this was the 23rd year marking the partnership between Doctors Hospital and Hospice of San Joaquin, according to Hospice board member Annette Sanchez.
This year, Doctors Hospital had 305 cases in which patients found that “a cure was no longer an option,” said CEO Ike Mmeje. He thanked the partnership with Hospice of San Joaquin for providing a helping hand in caring for many of these folks.
The estimated 487 LED light strands – that’s the tally of names as listed on the “in memory of’ board adjacent to the towering sequoia at the corner of Cottage Avenue and East North Street – were symbolic.
“This is the journey from grief to sorrow to honoring the memory of lives of loved ones during the holidays,” Sanchez said.
The family of the late Joanne Caley had the honors of powering the tree lighting that was set up by Pacific Gas & Electric, co-sponsors along 99.3 KJOY radio, Ulmer Photo and Chase Chevrolet.
Caley was helped up by the local hospice care to help ease the pain and suffering from her advanced Alzheimer’s disease, said her daughter Lee Ann Dorville.
Dorville along with her father Leonard Caley and his granddaughter Robyn Glover – they were also supported by the crowd chanting “Light the tree” – gladly turned the switch on.
The tree will remain lit through the end of the month. LED lights, by the way, are 10 times more energy efficient than that of the standard ones, said PG&E customer care manager Rodney Fryer.
In addition, the Tree Lighting Ceremony had music performed by the East Union High choir under the direction of Bekka Austin.
Rev. Curtis Kimbro of the New Spirit Missionary Baptist Church asked for a moment of silence not just for  those being remembered at this event but for the 14 killed in the mass shooting in San Bernardino earlier in the day.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, email