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Athens' Inspiring Hospice Foundation will host its third annual memorial butterfly release on Oct. 14 in Watkinsville. (Photo/Miranda Daniel)

Butterflies are symbolic creatures, representing life, resurrection and hope. Amid COVID-19, people are faced with social distancing and limited in-person interactions that have changed how many day-to-day activities are conducted, including funerals. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidance regarding funeral services such as virtual-only services and gatherings, outdoor services and reduced attendance. To honor a loved one’s death, the Inspiring Hospice Foundation is conducting its third annual Memorial Butterfly Release at the Oconee Veterans Park in Watkinsville on Saturday, Oct.17 at 4 p.m. 

“It is needed more than ever at this time of social isolation where funerals and memorial services have been so greatly scaled back and often canceled,” said Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator for Inspiring Hospice Partners of Georgia Kristin LeClair.

Inspiring Hospice Foundation is a nonprofit that provides services that are not covered by a patient’s or family’s hospice benefit in 17 counties surrounding the Athens-Clarke County area.

To best ensure the safety of all participants, the outdoor event will provide hand sanitizing stations and require all employees and volunteers to wear face masks. Seating for families and individuals will be spaced according to social distancing guidelines.

The foundation allows volunteers to bring joy to the patients, even in the simplest ways, LeClair said, from taking a patient a milkshake each week or arranging a flight for a loved one to come say a final goodbye. She said the goal of Inspiring Hospice Foundations is to provide patients with the ability to live their lives to the fullest, right up to the final moment. 

The butterfly release is a celebration of life for all individuals in the community. The event was established as a way for the community to gather for healing and to memorialize the loss of a loved one, LeClair said.

The event will be live streamed on the Inspiring Hospice Foundation’s Facebook Page.

A reservation is required before Oct. 14 to reserve seating or request a butterfly to release to honor a loved one. Both can be reserved by emailing butterfly@inspiringhospice.com or calling (706) 850-9300.

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