Published on December 02, 2022

'Lights for Life' Helps OH Services, Connecting With Loved Ones

Cathie Medley

The Owensboro Health Foundation’s annual holiday season tribute project “Lights for Life” is now open for people to give back while also being able to honor a loved one.

The project, which occurs with Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center and now Owensboro Health Henderson Healthplex for the first time, helps with a number of patient and family assistance programs throughout the region.

Community members are invited to participate in the program by making a contribution in honor or in memory of a loved one, where the symbolic lights on the holiday trees at each facility can pay tribute to family members, friends, school teachers, physicians, caregivers, ministers, co-workers or “anyone who has held a special place in your life.”

Lights available for purchase are: Star for $100; Green for $50; Red for $25; and White for $10. Names of those honored will be listed in the facility’s respective Lights for Life Online Tribute Book, along with being published in the Grayson County News Gazette, The Gleaner, the Leader-News, the Messenger-Inquirer and the Times Argus.

Since the program’s inception, the foundation has been able to help fund a number of services, such as helping more than 24,000 individuals in the last year with free mammograms and other diagnostic services to women, care bears for children in the hospital, free car seats and bike helmets to families in need, equipment to help care for NICU infants, hospitality suites for families of patients, medication assistance to cancer patients and more.

Cathie Medley, manager of the Owensboro Health Foundation, said the program, which started 25 to 30 years ago, initially started out as a collaboration with OH’s volunteer services department to raise money for the Care Bears for Kids program before expanding into other areas.

“Over the years, a number of needs were identified,” she said. “The funds are unrestricted to the foundation and our board allocates them where the needs are the greatest across our region.” Medley said it “feels amazing” to be able to help the growing number of people through this program, especially during the holidays. “It’s a season of giving, and to be able to know that we’re touching tens of thousands of people and providing them with the help and support that they need — it makes for a very meaningful holiday, I think,” she said. “The holidays area time that you reflect on what’s most important.”

The program has struck a chord with Lisa Burnett, who has been a long-time donor of the program. Burnett, 58, of Owensboro, became involved with the program after the passing of her father, Reatus Alvey, in 1998.

“That first Christmas, like everyone else, is always really hard and my mother and I wanted to find a way to do something really special to honor my dad,” she said. “That was about the time that Owensboro Health decided to do ‘Lights for Life.’ …When we heard what the foundation was going to do with ‘Lights for Life,’ my mom and I were just like, ‘This is perfect.’ ”

Burnett said the program has become a family tradition each year, electing to choose a Star light due to its symbolism and seeing how it benefits and impacts others.

“It really makes us feel like it’s another opportunity to know when we look up that (my father) is looking down on us,” she said. “...We really look forward to being able to be a part of this. Especially now since (the program) has grown so much and it reaches so many individuals in the community, it just really makes us, as a family, feel like it’s that added opportunity for our loved one to still be connected to the community and share his gift in spirit.”

Burnett said “Lights for Life” will be even more meaningful for 2022.

“I lost my mother this summer,” she said, “and so this year not only will I be donating for my dad; I’m also now going to start donating for my mother. For me, this is part of what I and our family want to do to help us heal and move forward.”

While Medley has seen the impact of the program in terms of services, she’s also observed its importance to people like Burnett and her family. “Being able to do this and honor (people) in this way just means so much more to us during the holidays,” she said.

For more information on the “Lights for Life” program, visit OwensboroHealth.org/Lights-for-life.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.