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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Suffering cries for resolution’: as COVID-19 cases rise, memorials do too

Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum begin planning a memorial dedicated to the lives lost to COVID-19


By CHRIS PONCE — city@theaggie.org 


COVID-19 cases have seen an uptick throughout April, according to a press release from Yolo County published on April 26. The increase in positive cases can be attributed to the subvariant related to omicron, as shown by evidence of the uptick, according to the press release. 

“Testing positivity rates have sustained increases over a one-week period,” the press release reads. “Elevated levels of the virus have been detected in wastewater in Davis, which often indicates wider community spread ahead of clinical testing.”

As cases are on the rise, the Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum is currently in the planning stages of a new project. They intend to install a permanent memorial to the cemetery that recognizes the lives lost to COVID-19. Fundraising is a key aspect to the project plan, according to Heidy Kellison, a member of the Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum Board of Trustees.

When Davis Cemetery & Arboretum announced its plan for installation, it stated that the memorial will consist of three pillars, representing remembrance, honor and acknowledgement and resiliency and strength. A statement on their website highlights these aspects of remembrance. 

“This memorial will provide a space for community members to remember those we lost and how the pandemic has impacted them personally,” the website reads.

The architecture of the memorial will highlight all of the lives lost from the pandemic and  appreciate the strength of the Davis community, according to the Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum website. Five pillars will be a part of the memorial representing the lives lost to COVID-19. Visitors can walk through a path to view each pillar. The end of the path will include a reflection area where people can not only remember what was lost, but also look forward to what is to come.

District Superintendent of Davis Cemetery District Jessica Smithers gave credit to Heidy Kellison and Stephen Souza for their work in leading the project. Smithers praised their work via email. 

“[They are] the visionaries behind the permanent COVID-19 memorial,” Smithers said. 

The Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum is focusing on raising funds for this project, as it is still early in the planning phase. They are asking for donations and sponsorships. Heidy Kellison, who is tasked with fundraising and outreach for the memorial, talked about the importance of fundraising for this project via email. 

“By way of background, we are still in the planning phases for the memorial,” Kellison said. “Community input is being sought and we are raising the necessary funds. This work is happening currently.”

The Davis Cemetery & Arboretum website has three tiers for sponsors based on the amount of their donation. The individual sponsor, who can donate anywhere from $50 to $999, will have their name featured on the website and marketing materials. They will also be given recognition at the memorial. The memorial partner, donating $1,000 to $2,499, will receive the same benefits as well as a feature plaque within the memorial. The community champion, donating over $2,500, will be asked to speak at the dedication event and in addition to benefits from the other tiers. 

Kellison stressed the emotional importance of the memorial to the local Davis community. The memorial will be designed to not only remember and mourn the lives lost, but also serve to display the resilience of the Davis community. Kellison further elaborated on the impact the pandemic has had on people’s lives, and how the memorial will help to provide closure. 

“Pandemic trauma has impacted everyone. People lost and continue to lose loved ones. Our entire way of life, including our sense of security, has been upended,” Kellison said. “This is worsened by a lack of access to mental health services and to family and friends who offer essential support. The memorial will perform a critical function by acknowledging loss — something that is missing from our understandable rush to forget. Suffering cries for resolution. The Davis Cemetery District wishes to be a healing resource by offering a space to grieve, reflect, and recover in a way that is available to all people.”


Written by: Chris Ponce — city@theaggie.org 



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