Six Christmas trees, thousands of lights, 40 volunteers – it all adds up to a lot of holiday spirit at Cape Cod Hospital.
Every December members of the Garden Club of Hyannis spend a morning decorating six trees around the building. It’s an effort that has a big payoff.
“We love that they do this each year,” said Heather Ogonowsky, a secretary at the Centers for Behavioral Health. “The patients think it’s amazing. It means a lot to so many people that they come in and do this. They do a beautiful job. It truly makes the patients happier.”
Deborah Benassi, left, and Marilyn Sharry work on the tree in Cape Cod Hospital’s main lobby.
This is the 25th year that the club has decorated trees at the hospital, according to Debby Faulconer, publicity chairperson for the club.
“Little by little, it’s grown,” she said. The tradition started with a small tree in the emergency department in 1994. The main lobby was next, and trees are also located in the lobbies of the Mugar Building, the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center, the O’Keefee Surgical Center and the newest member of the club, the Centers for Behavioral Health. Garden club members also decorate a tree at the Hyannis Public Library.
“The trees are so beautiful,” said Lisa Shook, RN, an oncology nurse who was passing by as a team was working on the tree at the cancer center. “They give people a sense of the peace of the season.”
“People love it,” said a lobby receptionist. “Visitors take pictures by the tree or admire it while they’re having a cup of coffee.”
Different Sizes and Colors
The 12-foot tree in the main lobby is the tallest. The Mugar Building tree, which has 1,800 lights, is 10 feet tall and the others are 5 or 6 feet tall.
The color schemes vary. The main lobby tree features gold ornaments and red ribbons, the Mugar building ornaments are silver and red, and the behavioral center tree dazzles with a mix of blue, white and silver. A sign near the emergency department’s tree pays tribute to cardiologist Grover Farrish, MD, former chief of medicine at Cape Cod Hospital, who died on Christmas Day in 1994.
“It gives people a little boost,” said Ann Rosseel, a garden club member who is also a Cape Cod Hospital volunteer. “I love it because the girls in the garden club, the patients and the visitors all say it cheers them up.”
Elizabeth Katchpole and Irene Lupo were part of the team working on the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center’s tree.
“For many of us, it’s payback because we’re cancer survivors,” said Katchpole.
“We’re at our alma mater,” said Lupo.
When Faulconer walked the hall between trees, a visitor asker her, “Are you part of the team decorating the trees? Would you come to my house?”
All of the reusable artificial trees were donated to the hospital.
“The hospital stores the trees the rest of the year, and we store the decorations,” said Faulconer. That involves finding places to stash dozens of boxes of lights, ornaments and ribbons.
The day before decoration day, the hospital maintenance department sets up the trees and a few Garden Club members place the lights on the trees.
“It always takes a while to figure out which lights work and which ones don’t,” said Faulconer.
On decoration day, six or seven club members cluster around each day. This year, Gail Hubacker, the club’s first vice president stood back from the main lobby tree, as the crew neared the finish.
“Can you reach that spot?” she asked. “I see another hole.”
When the trees were done, the six teams gathered at a local restaurant for a group lunch.
The trees will be on display until the first week of January.
Founded in 1930, the Garden Club of Hyannis is the oldest garden club on Cape Cod. For more information, visit the club’s web site.