Ceremony to honor memories of those lost to Covid

Compassionate Brattleboro to host service, tree dedication for area pandemic victims

BRATTLEBORO — As elsewhere, the area has lost many loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic, with records showing that 40 people in Windham County have died from complications of COVID-19.

Compassionate Brattleboro and Brattleboro Area Hospice will lead the community in honoring and remembering these loved ones in a brief ceremony at the beginning of Gallery Walk on Friday, Sept. 2 (rain date Saturday, Sept. 3), at 5 p.m., on the lawn between the Municipal Building and Brooks Memorial Library.

“Our hope is to reach the families of all Covid victims in the Brattleboro area so that they might participate, providing photos of their loved ones and saying a few words,” says Jim Levinson of Compassionate Brattleboro.

The active committee is “working intentionally to put compassion into action” here as part of a global Charter for Compassion movement since voter approval in 2017 of a referendum question supporting the town officially becoming one of more than 450 others worldwide designated as Compassionate Communities.

Following the vote, the Selectboard unanimously passed a resolution committing the town government to act in accordance with the principles outlined in the Charter for Compassion.

A ceremony comes together

The idea for the remembrance ceremony came from Lindsey Britt, a member of the Compassionate Brattleboro working group.

“When we took up the idea with [Interim Town Manager] Patrick Moreland and other town officials, they were very excited and immediately involved Peter Lynch, who heads the tree committee, thinking that the ceremony should include the dedication of a tree,” says Levinson.

“Peter has already put together a beautiful plaque, which will be placed on the dedicated tree and a photo will be taken of mourning family members around the tree,” he says.

Stephanie Bonin, former executive director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, suggested that Brattleboro Area Hospice also be involved, and Lars Hunter, bereavement program coordinator of Brattleboro Area Hospice, has been “very responsive,” says Levinson, noting those groups have spent much time with many victims in their final days.

Rev. Mary Lindquist, rector of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, will lead the ceremony. She has also been heading the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Leadership Alliance.

One relative of each departed loved one is invited to speak briefly about the individual and provide a 3 in. {x} 5 in. color photo on cardboard or poster board, along the person's name and up to five words about the person.

These memoriams will be gathered by the Harmony Arts Council and turned into a display inside the Municipal Center.

The Hallowell Singers, a chorus whose members sing for Hospice and other such causes, will offer, in addition to other musical selections, a sung “amen” after each relative speaks.

During the ceremony, the town will also dedicate a Carolina Silver Bell tree just outside the Main Street building. A plaque will be placed on or near the tree to mark the dedication. Town Tree Board member Robert Clements will offer those words of dedication.

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