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Butterfly Release Day not happening this year (8 photos)

Popular ARCH event moved to next year as other key fundraisers for the organization face similar cancellations or challenges. But some events are still a-go or being transformed virtually

For many local families, ARCH Hospice is a local treasure.

The local hospice provides quality, compassionate care through end-of-life to Algoma District families at no cost.

“Many people in the Algoma District assume we are [fully] funded and are often surprised to hear that we need to raise at least $850,000 annually in order to support our residents and their loved ones,” says Christianne Monico, Executive Director at Algoma Residential Community Hospice (ARCH).

One of the ways ARCH makes up for the amount needed to provide care is to engage the community in a number of ways, including special events like the annual Butterfly Release Day, where family, friends and individuals gather together to release over 300 butterflies.

Families often participate to commemorate a loved one, celebrate life and new beginnings, or connect with nature on a personal level.

Participants sponsor the butterflies and the revenue generated goes to ARCH.

In past years, community members have embraced the ceremony and made it an annual success.

Knowing that restrictions around large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic would impact the event, and not wanting to disappoint those who love the event, the team at ARCH came up with what they believed to be a solution planned for Aug. 5.

“We had originally come up with a creative, virtual solution for this year’s event, to avoid having people unnecessarily congregate,” says Monico.

Unfortunately, ARCH encountered two challenges to their virtual event.

The numbers of people sponsoring the butterflies was much lower than in past years.

Monico understands the lower level of participation, as sponsors would not be able to release the butterflies themselves, which was part of the event’s charm.  

Ultimately, it was a shipping issue that forced the cancellation of the event.

“The greenhouse from Southern Ontario contacted us earlier this week and informed us they did not feel confident in this year’s transportation and delivery options,” says Monico.

As disappointing as it was to make the decision, Monico decided best to play it on the safe side.

“As such, we made the call to pick this event back up next year [in 2021], when our supporters can hopefully personally release their own butterflies once again.”

Unfortunately, the Butterfly Release event is only one of the many events ARCH hosts throughout the year to fundraise.

“Sadly, many of our great events have been cancelled, rescheduled or transformed this year due to COVID,” says Monico.

“We missed having our largest annual fundraiser, the Bucket List Ball, a very, large gala held in May. So we’ve had to attempt to make up for that as well.”

With the loss of major corporate sponsors during these challenging economic times for businesses, some of their other events are currently on hold too.

Despite the challenges, ARCH has been able to reinvent and transform a few of their events to a virtual format.

“We were able to transform our annual Flower Basket Fundraiser into a virtual event and it was actually more successful that way than in the past,” says Monico.

“So we are considering other similar options throughout the year.”

Another event that recently transformed was the annual Run-the-Great-Lakes.

“ARCH is extremely grateful to both The Shoe Fits and Tenaris for converting that event to a virtual ‘Can’t’ Run the Great Lakes for us.”

Monico is also grateful for a number of organizations that donate a portion of the money raised at third-party events to ARCH.

“One great example of this is The Esquire Club’s Catch-the-Ace draw held weekly on Thursdays,” says Monico. “Our supporters can purchase their tickets between 5 and 9 p.m. at The Esquire Club and the draw is held at 9:30 p.m. The progressive pot is growing and it will eventually be shared amongst the named charities. Get your tickets and good luck.”

Luckily ARCH is able to proceed with a few of their upcoming events with a few COVID-appropriate adjustments, including:

Monico notes that aside from the impacts to our fundraising events due to the pandemic, general donations have gone down significantly over the past several months.

“We needed to consider more long-term support solutions as well,” says Monico. “We are excited to be hosting our first ARCH 50/50 draw [taking place on] July 31st at 5 PM.”

Tickets for the ARCH 50/50 can be purchased here.

Donations can be made to ARCH by clicking on the “Donate” button on the ARCH website.