Reflections of Peace benefits Hospice
A celebration of the spirit of community, coupled with a concert to benefit one of the most important organizations on the Island, Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, takes place tonight at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs. The 13th annual Reflections of Peace: A Christmas Concert is privately funded and all proceeds from the $15 admission go directly to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard (HMV).
"For Hospice, we ask the community to support us. We give everything for free, we don't take any insurance, reimbursements, and we don't give anybody a bill," says Terre Young, executive director of HMV. "So it's really the community's good work that allows our work to happen."
Reflections of Peace, which is completely produced by volunteers, has Kevin Ryan and Judy Williamson as its front-line organizers. They are, in effect, the logistics coordinators of this charitable holiday benefit.x
Mr. Ryan says it started not as a Christmas Concert, nor a Hospice benefit: "It began as a sort of Thanksgiving concert to give thanks to the community for their generosity and support since we had just finished renovating Our Lady Star of the Sea Church and it was so good looking and so beautiful, that Judy Williamson suggested that we should have a concert there."
Ms. Williamson adds, "The idea was to put the reason back into the season - why we celebrate it - the love."
The performers include: violinist Rebecca Barca-Tinus, Sandra Bitterman on the Celtic harp (something new this year), pianist Peter Boak, organist Wesley Brown, and cellist Jan Hyer. Also, the a cappella group NOVUM will play a large part in the festivities. Added to all that is an original composition, "Mass of Creation," by the Island's own Linda Berg.
"It's just amazing to think that one of the local folks - someone you see fairly often - can sit down and construct a contemporary mass," Mr. Ryan says.
The idea for Ms. Berg's piece came to her when she went home to Colorado to take care of her ailing father. When she returned to the Island she had almost completed it. "It was the place, the time, and the relationship with her father that inspired her to create such a beautiful work," Mr. Ryan says.
"Being a Hospice family member, the education, support and encouragement that the people at Hospice provides is invaluable," says Mr. Ryan. "Hospice instills in you a trust in someone else - a trust that allows someone else to take care of your family member. A license for you to allow them to step in as knowledgeable people to handle any given situation that you may not be fully prepared to handle."
Ms. Young sums it up quite beautifully: "Hospice isn't about taking days from one's life, it's about adding life to one's days. We work with families and the person who is ill to have the best quality of time together for however many days or months may be left."
Mr. Ryan adds, "The generosity of those involved with Hospice - those who give so freely of their time, talent and energy - is what has kept this event so special. There is a waiting list every year when it comes to participating in this event, and that is just so refreshing."
And Ms. Young concludes: "It's a blessing in addition to a gift that there are community members who know how important our work is, and are willing to make money happen for us so that we can go out there and do what we do. And once Reflections of Peace is finished, that is exactly what you receive - Peace. You walk out of that church with just a beautiful, peaceful feeling."
"Reflections of Peace" - A Christmas concert to Celebrate and Benefit Hospice of Martha's Vineyard. Tonight at 7:30 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Massasoit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. $15. No advance ticket sales or reservations.
Ray Whitaker is a regular contributor to The Times.