At Compassionate Care of Carpinteria’s (CCC) annual benefit this year, keynote speaker Cynder Sinclair will be delivering an inspiring message about living through loss. “The Light Shines Ahead” fundraiser will be held virtually on Oct. 6 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  

Sinclair, who is a nonprofit leader and author of the book, “My Wild and Precious Life,” will speak to her experience on persevering after the sudden death of her father and the death of her son to cancer. On both occasions, Hospice of Santa Barbara, CCC’s parent organization, was a beacon of comfort and support for Sinclair. 

“Both times my life was immersed in darkness and the healing angels of Hospice transformed that darkness, illuminating the path ahead one step at a time,” Sinclair said. “I believe we all can learn to be light bearers for others during their time of grief by learning more about the healing services of Hospice of SB.”

CCC’s steering committee chair, Marybeth Carty, said they chose Sinclair to give this year’s keynote because she has a story that inspired her, and she thinks will inspire others. 

“We want to help people understand that even in the throes of loss and grief, there are possibilities for a bright light at the end of the tunnel and our speakers really reflect that,” she said. “Our speakers talk about what happens on the other end of that loss.”

Carty also hopes the event brings awareness to the community of Carpinteria that there are services available for grief – bilingual, bicultural and free. “It’s all available with just a phone call to get started,” she said.

“The Light Shines Ahead” began as a speaker series along with the foundation of CCC. Carty and the committee wanted to create something  “native to Carpinteria.” “We have residents and a community that has needs that don’t always lend themselves to driving up the hill to Santa Barbara for services and counseling. CCC provides patient care that was virtually unknown to our community before we this initiative in place for Carpinterians.” Carpinterians, Carty added, need to learn to live with loss. 

For Sinclair, the grieving process after losing her son taught her how strong a person can be, even amid great adversity. 

“My own resilience inspired me to focus on the light my son brought to my life while he was alive and the delight his children and siblings bring to my life and to the world,” she said.

When Sinclair first visited Hospice, it was after the death of her father. Joanne Talbot, a hospice counselor, met with her for five months to help her address the complicated relationship she had with her dad, and to process her grief on his passing.

Years later, she learned that her adult son was dying of cancer. Again, she turned to Hospice for support. She met another counselor, Jim Hill, who met with her weekly for nine months – five months while her son was dying and four months after he passed. 

“Supporting my family during this process was unbelievably difficult and yet, with the help of Jim Hill, it was such a blessing,” she said.

Sinclair hopes attendees hear her talk and understand how much Hospice offers to support community members suffering from grief. 

“I also hope attendees take away the idea that they can be light-bearers for others who are feeling the heavy weight of sadness from the death of a loved one. As we focus on illuminating the dark path with a healing light, we will be blessed, and we will bless many others.”

The Light Shines Ahead is hosted by Winn VanWingerden and Ed VanWingerden and is the annual fundraiser for CCC, an initiative of Hospice of Santa Barbara. CCC offers programs and services, completely free of charge, to anyone in Carpinteria grieving the loss of a loved one or struggling with a life-threatening illness. 

All CCC services are offered free of charge in English and Spanish throughout Carpinteria. Compassionate Care of Carpinteria provides services to adults, children and seniors who are facing life-threatening illnesses or grieving the death of a loved one. 

To learn more and register for the free event, visit: compassionatecareofcarpinteria.org.

Sinclair has pledged 25% of proceeds from the sale of her book on the day of the event to Hospice of Santa Barbara.  

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