Area residents gathered at DayBreak Community Church in Owatonna on Sunday for the Star of Hope service and lighting ceremony. Speakers and musicians shared a message of love and hope, while benefiting a worthy cause.
Donations to the Star of Hope event will go toward the Patient Care Fund, which assists hospice families with limited resources. During the ceremony, Laura McKibbin, a social worker with Allina Hospice at the Homestead Hospice House in Owatonna, shared some information about the Patient Care Fund. McKibbin explained that hospice care encompasses a variety of needs. The founders of the Homestead Hospice House established a Patient Care Fund to help people afford the necessary room and board.
“This fund covers up to 100 percent of the room and board fee at Homestead for those patients who are unable to afford to pay it privately,” said McKibbin. “It’s very rare for a community the size of Owatonna to have a residential hospice facility. It’s unprecedented to have a residential hospice facility where the community helps pay for the room and board for those who need it.”
Pat Buretta, Hospice and Home Care manager, also shared a message about “going home” during the service. Buretta has been serving as the Hospice and Home Care Manager since August and has had a career in nursing and care for over 40 years. “Early in my career, I learned that hospice work was a passion for me, and it was something I was driven to do,” she said.
Buretta shared that there are over 100 synonyms for the word “home” and explained that home is a place where one can find comfort and peace. “My work as a hospice nurse and now manager here has given me great experiences and opportunities to witness the passage, the going home, of many, many folks,” Buretta said, finishing with a quote by American author and biochemistry professor, Isaac Asimov: “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s, at times, troublesome.”
Roy Collette, who welcomed guests to the ceremony, noted that this year’s ceremony carried a special significance for event organizers. This year’s service marks the 25th year of the event and this year’s honorary “star lighter” performed the task in honor and memory of Phyllis Rowe, a Star of Hope task force member who passed away in November.
“This year, 2015, has had a very different feeling for most of us on the team,” said Collette. “A couple of weeks ago, we lost our teammate and friend, Phyllis Rowe. She had been involved for many years with us. She will be greatly, greatly missed.”
During the service, guests enjoyed music by the Ellendale United Methodist Church Choir, the Owatonna High School carolers and, following the ceremony, additional music by the Owatonna High School String Ensemble. Roy Collette, Sister Franchon Pirkl, the Rev. John Linde and Maureen Mahoney also provided messages, prayers and blessings during the service.
Once the program came to a close, all were invited to join a processional from the church to the Homestead Hospice House (located across the street) to witness the lighting of the Star of Hope, which rests atop the windmill outside the Homestead Hospice House. Refreshments were also available in the church’s activity hall.