Hope Takes Flight: Butterfly release

Item photo by Amanda Gilmore
Peyton Simmons, with the help of her mother Lori, release a butterfly.
Item photo by Amanda Gilmore Peyton Simmons, with the help of her mother Lori, release a butterfly.

The Berks Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) celebrated the 10th annual “Hope Takes Flight” butterfly release on Sunday, June 2. Held for the third time at the Berks Heritage Center in Bern Township, this year had the highest number of registered participants.

“It was very nice again this year,” said president and CEO of the Berks VNA Association, Lucille Gough, who is also a Shoemakersville resident. “We were very fortunate that the weather held out for a beautiful afternoon. The butterflies stayed around a bit, which is always nice for our guests to see.”

Participants were able to dedicate and release a monarch butterfly either in memory of a loved one or to honor a person or occasion, such as a birth or wedding for a fee. The donations garnered from this event directly fund the Berks VNA’s nonprofit initiatives.

“It’s a great event that helps our organization, typically raising about $6,000 annually,” Gough said. “This helps us with charity care, which is important to our mission of providing service to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”


In addition to the recitation of dedications and actual release, the event also included reflective readings, live music and children’s activities.

Katie Williams, 5 of Sinking Spring, was accompanied by grandmother Carol Williams and brother Ethan, 3, to the event. After coloring her own butterfly at the craft table, she shared that her favorite part of the day is releasing her own butterfly. “You warm them up in the envelope, then you just open it up and let them go,” said Williams.

Lori Simmons of Exeter brought her two daughters, Peyton, 3, and Taylor, 7 months, with their grandmother, Cookie Simmons. The three generations of Simmons women released two butterflies in memory of Cookie’s parents, Raloy and Rose Edris. In previous years, Raloy Edris had dedicated a butterfly to Rose’s memory, as well as one to honor the birth of Peyton. It has become a family tradition.

Even after years of participating in and facilitating the event, Gough said that she is still touched by the event. “I always get a chill when I hear my parents’ names recited during the ceremony.”

Founded in 1909, the Berks VNA has provided health care services in both home- and community-based capacities. The nonprofit’s mission is to help people achieve physical and emotional well-being and independence in their home of choice. Serving four counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Berks VNA provides a variety of services and specialty programs. For more information, visit www.berksvna.org or call (866) 777-4862.