Published in the Muskegon Tribune
October 29, 2013
|Linda Aerts, Harbor Hospice|
Occasionally, I write articles for the West Michigan newspaper, Muskegon Tribune, and this assignment was to promote the West Michigan Cancer Awareness Musical in Muskegon, sponsored by Harbor Hospice and a local church.
When a member of the Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, he wanted to leave a lasting legacy for his church and for his community.
“Vernell Allen had a passion for music,” says Wanda Jefferson. Along with being a registered nurse, Jefferson has been one of the event organizers and a praise team leader at the church where Allen built his legacy, now an annual musical event to raise awareness about cancer. “It’s become a community event, and it’s grown larger every year.”
This year’s West Michigan Cancer Awareness Musical features gospel singer Jessica Reedy, praise and worship groups, a community choir, and motivational speakers. The event will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, at Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church, 412 E. Sherman Boulevard, Muskegon Heights. It is free and open to the public.
The awareness-raising event is sponsored by Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church and Harbor Hospice, 1050 West Western Avenue, Muskegon. Harbor Hospice care offers specialized health care with expertise in pain and symptom management, emotional support and spiritual care, as well as bereavement counseling for family members anticipating or following the death of a loved one.
“Harbor Hospice became involved four years ago with the first event,” says Linda Aerts, executive assistant at Harbor Hospice. “We’ve been a sponsor for all the annual events, because our executive director, Mary Anne Gorman, and our board believe in its importance. Hospice is about mind, body and spirit, and the West Michigan Cancer Awareness Musical speaks to all of these.”
Although Harbor Hospice cares for cancer patients at the end of their life journey, Aerts says, hospice cares for patients with other illnesses, too. “Hospice is about family,” she says. “But cancer is the great equalizer. Everyone seems to either know someone dealing with cancer or has dealt with it him or herself.”
“Our pastor, Bishop Willie Burrell, Jr., died of pancreatic cancer,” adds Jefferson. “When we started this event, we began to...