HOSPICE HELPS TELL LIFE STORY; COUPLE RECORDS GIFT TO FUTURE GENERATIONS.
As Betty Burch's family was celebrating her 70th birthday in November with the usual festivities and presents, the Camarillo woman was working on her own special gift for her family.
Since September, Burch, who has spinal cancer, and her husband, Jack, 72, have been recording their family history with the assistance of Billie Vice, a volunteer from the Camarillo Hospice.
``It's just so nice to have this history for my family,'' Burch said. ``As my grandchildren grow they will not only have a family tree but a living history as well.''
Vice has enjoyed her once-a-week visits with the Burches, recording the memories of the childhood sweethearts who have been married for 48 years.
``The Burches have had so much fun remembering the fun times and little incidents,'' Vice said. ``It's helped them get away from their current problems.''
The Burches both grew up in Miami, where their families were close friends.
``I think our families planned on us being together even before we were born,'' Jack Burch said.
Betty Burch is pleased that the story of their lives will be preserved for their four adult children and 11 grandchildren and appreciates the assistance from the hospice.
``The volunteers have been so helpful,'' Betty Burch said. ``They stayed with me so my husband can take a break and helped us to create a lasting legacy.''
Vice has been recording oral histories for hospice patients for eight years. She is one of 175 volunteers at the hospice, which also has a small part-time paid staff.
In November, the Camarillo Hospice began its largest fund-raiser of the year, the Tree of Life campaign. This is the 13th annual Tree of Life campaign and the hospice hopes to raise $55,000 so that services like the oral history program can continue to be offered to people with life-threatening illnesses free of charge.
``The holiday gift will benefit people in the community,'' said Edith Santangelo, hospice executive director. ``As of Monday we have raised $34,000 and we're well on our way to reaching our goal.''
Donations to the campaign can be made until Jan. 8. For each $15 donation, contributors will receive a gold-and-white paper medallion with a space to fill in the name of the honoree to signify that they have a light shining on the Tree of Life, located in Constitution Park in Camarillo. The tree will be lit as part of a holiday program beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at the Performing Arts Pavilion, 601 Carmen Drive.
PHOTO Cancer patient Betty Burch, left, and husband Jack are recording their story with hospice volunteer Billie Vice's help.
Michael Owen Baker/Daily News