Jo Carolyn Chambers, former director of social services for Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, created the vision of the Celebration of Life approximately 20 years ago.
"We started [the celebration] as a way to remember and honor those that we served and loved as well as the impact they made in each of our lives," she said. "Many residents become like family and having the Celebration of Life provides that special time of reflection and gratitude for the way that our lives were touched. For the families, the Celebration of Life allowed them a chance to also reflect and remember as well as share with the caregivers."
The Celebration of Life tree remains lit at the front of the chapel for the entire holiday season. It is not unusual for individuals to stop in during the day, simply to look at the ornaments on the tree. The first ornaments used were gold stars, each with the name of a resident who had passed. Now, Presbyterian Manor uses ornaments that have a picture of each resident.
If you ask the Presbyterian Manor family, the Celebration of Life tree is most precious tree in our community.
PHOTOS: At the very top, David Messenger honors his late father, Paul Messenger. In the bottom photo, Kimberly Walton honors her late mother, Barbara Orman.