First-time since pandemic ‘Lights of Love’ to be held in person in Oxford County - Grant Haven
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First-time since pandemic ‘Lights of Love’ to be held in person in Oxford County

First-time since pandemic ‘Lights of Love’ to be held in person in Oxford County

María C. Rosales Gerpe

The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Sakura House hospice in Oxford County launched an event called “Lights of Love” for palliative care residents and their families to connect during the pandemic and mark the beginning of the festive season on the first Friday of December. The event had to be hosted virtually to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This Friday, December 1, 2023, “Lights of Love” will be held in person. “For the first time, loved ones’ family members and friends will be welcomed to the gardens of Sakura House to light lanterns for their loved ones who once resided or currently resided at the hospice,” stated Brittany Bratt, Fund Development Coordinator for the Engagement and Philanthropy Team at VON Middlesex – Elgin, VON Oxford, and VON Sakura House. 

Bratt also mention the event involves a tribute walk, and commemoration ceremony for loved ones. The lanterns will bear the name of loved ones along with a dedication, or special message.

“People can buy a lantern in remembrance of anyone, not necessarily those who reside or have resided within Sakura House,” Bratt specified. Proceeds from purchased lanterns will go toward supporting VON Sakura House. 

About VON Sakura House

Founded in 2009 after a substantial monetary support by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC), Sakura House was set up after recognizing Woodstock was in Neeb of a facility that could provide palliative care, which may include end-of-life care, or sustained care for serious chronic illnesses such as cancer. Named Sakura after the Japanese word for cherry blossom, the house would symbolize celebration and remembrance of the beauty and vulnerability of human life.

According to Bratt, the organization takes pride in cultivating a home-away-from-home feeling with professional healthcare services offered at no cost to the individuals receiving palliative care, or to their families. Oxford County resident Jill Roberts who experienced care at VON Sakura House recognized the organization efforts by saying that she wished people in dire health situations could feel the same “peace provided by Sakura House” she was able to experience. 

In gratitude for this experience, Roberts became a volunteer and co-chairs a committee to help fundraise for the hospice because VON Sakura House “relies on donations to be able to run,” Bratt noted.

“All contributions from the community go toward the operations of Sakura House, which includes wages for staff as well as providing training for volunteers, many of whom run programs within Sakura House,” said Allie Neeb, another Fund Development Coordinator for VON Sakura House.

“We are very thankful for the continued support of TMMC, which has been a steadfast in its contributions to VON Sakura House since the very beginning,” stated Neeb. “We are also grateful for the contributions from many local businesses” that include Valarie Mounsteven Real State Broker, Century 21 Heritage House Ltd. Brokerage, ProResp Community Respiratory Therapy, Bossy Nagy Group Chartered Professional Accountants, and Toyota Boshoku, added Neeb.

How to help toward VON Sakura House

Those interested in donating a lantern on behalf of loved ones or to support residents of Sakura House can visit The hospice building will also be lit for the holiday season during the Lights of Love ceremony.

For more information about VON Sakura House, please visit, and

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