This October, the Walk for Hospice returns to the campus of St. John’s Prep for the first time since 2019. We are looking forward to being back in-person after two virtual celebrations due to the pandemic. Care Dimensions Special Events Manager Amy Rein will be organizing her fifth Walk. She sat down for questions about this year’s event and lessons learned over the past few years.
This fall will be the first in-person walk in 3 years. How is the planning going?
Planning for this fall’s Walk is going great. We have been met with such positivity and enthusiasm for hosting an in-person event. Folks are longing to get together and share this collective experience of remembering loved ones and celebrating their lives. Through so much of the pandemic, we have been isolated, and this is an opportunity to be amongst family, friends, colleagues and the community to pay tribute to loved ones and support the vital mission of Care Dimensions.
For folks who have never been to a Walk for Hospice (or for those who need a refresher), what can they expect?
Many might think a hospice Walk would be sad and somber. Although we may experience the grief and loss of our loved ones, this event is lively and energizing. Everyone is there for a common goal and there are a great number of young people, children and many students from St. John’s Prep and other area schools.
We have local cheerleaders showing spirit for our Walkers, an a cappella group, our wonderful DJ Chris Culkeen playing our favorite Walk songs, a canine corner that caters to our four legged friends, a kids’ corner with fun and engaging activities, refreshments, a prize wheel, sponsor tables and a tribute area to commemorate our loved ones.
There is something for everyone and the shared experience is very meaningful for all.
We had to have virtual walks over the past couple of years. What surprised you most about that experience?
Our primary goal over the past two years was to make it meaningful for all participants in a virtual format. Our team worked together to be creative and innovative in figuring out how to bring the Walk to our supporters. That included a lot of videos: sharing stories about the mission of Care Dimensions, as told by families and also through our amazing staff.
What surprised me the most was that I felt like I really got to know our Walkers on a deeper personal level in the virtual format.
I think that’s because we didn’t just see them as a part of a big group on Walk Day. Our team reached out in advance to listen to individual stories and we even joined some families on their personal walks. We listened more and shared more. We will take these lessons and carry them forward.
What else did you learn over the past couple of years that will guide future walks?
The virtual format was a great opportunity for people to participate who wouldn’t have been able to attend an in-person event. For example, our partner Copyright Clearance Center was able to host a virtual Walk for their employees in several countries at the same time.
Not everyone can travel to the Walk and we want people to know they can still do this on their own time and do any activity that works for them. Families can choose to Walk somewhere that has special meaning to them and pick a date that has special significance. We will always offer the “remote” component so that everyone can participate.
For someone who has never walked before, what do you want them to know?
It is such a lovely way to pay tribute to your loved one; to take the time to honor their memory and their lives. Everyone is welcome and we know you will find comfort and healing, as well as inspiration.
We have teams that walk every year as a family tradition and, of course, we always welcome new walkers, whether you sign up as a team or just as individuals.
It is also a time for us to spread the word about hospice and how the very best and compassionate hospice care helps people live their very best life. All funds raised from the Walk help ensure this care is available to anyone in need, regardless of financial resources. Donations also fund grief support services, volunteer programs, community education, complementary therapies and our family fund. The Walk helps Care Dimensions to offer care that goes above and beyond the standard of care.
With the support of our families, volunteers, staff, community businesses and vendors, we are confident we will reach our goals this year. You can make a difference and we are here to help you every step of the way.
Sign up and learn more at CareDimensions.org/Walk
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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore, has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.