Fluttering wings filled the air at Bellevue Park on Thursday evening as 350 people (and approx. 400 butterflies) took part of ARCH Hospice’s fifth annual Butterfly Release.
Julie Premo, support services manager for ARCH, told SaultOnline this event is just one of the fundraisers ARCH puts on to raise the $750,000 needed to keep their doors open each year.
“It’s events like this and having the support of our community that really allows us to open our doors and provide the end-of-life care that we do provide to our community at no cost,” she said. “It means so much to have a meaningful event that our community embraces year after year.”
Premo said they try to get different butterflies each year; last year, they released Monarchs and this year it was Painted Ladies.
Participants Sally Toivonen and Tom O’Flanagan have been attending this event for the past three years. The pair have have been personally touched by ARCH, as they met there when both of their partners were passing on three years ago.
“I came to the first event (after my husband passed), and I was so moved by the crowd and the support our community gives to ARCH, but more importantly, the connection of releasing that butterfly,” Toivonen said. “For me personally, to be able to give something back so that some other family who’s going through the same thing can survive; that’s what it’s all about. We need this place in our community, and our community shows that they want it as well.”
“(ARCH) is a remarkable place and an extraordinary service to the community,” O’Flanagan said. “It’s everything that it should be and more.”
“ARCH is such a big part of the community,” said participant Carlie Moss-Bossio, who, along with her son, released a butterfly in honour of her grandmother who recently passed away.
“So many people need access to a place like ARCH, and it needs all the support in the world, so it’s all I can do to come out and support them. Everyone should be here supporting them.”
Daphne Peredun and her husband have been attending this event since it started five years ago. He provides the music for the event, but they also come to support ARCH.
“We’re so fortunate to have ARCH in our community,” she said. “We’ve been at ARCH with both of our parents, and it’s not only for the person who is there but for the family and all the support they give.”
For more information on ARCH and how you can help, visit their website here.