HONOLULU (KHON2) — “I just felt called to do it,” says Jo DesMarets.

For the past ten years, Jo DesMarets has volunteered at the Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony.  

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“It’s this total experience. It’s like a meditation. When I anticipate that I’m going to Shinyoen to volunteer, this warm feeling comes over me. It’s a collection of diverse people with like heart, like mind, coming together for an incredibly wonderful purpose,” says DesMarets

Her purpose was to always help people, especially after she met Edith Maeda at Church in the mid-’90s.

“We just clicked and hit it off,” says DesMarets.

DesMarets cared for Maeda who suffered from severe osteoporosis.  

“I made her a pin one time that said I keep an attitude of gratitude. She was incredibly thankful for everything and having that as a mantra, as a way of seeing the world has really been important to me,” says DesMarets.

What’s also important, is the memories she made with Maeda who passed away in 2009.

“The things we did together, it was just absolutely a fun 10 years of being with her. We flew around the island on one of those tour helicopters and she giggled the whole time. It was awesome to have that experience with her,” says DesMarets.

Her experience as a caregiver also taught her the importance of self-care.

“Caregiving is important but self-care is an incredibly important part of that process. When you care for someone, you also have to care for yourself so that you stay in a good space and can provide the care for others,” says DesMarets.

As we approach Memorial Day, DesMarets will continue to honor her friend with a heartfelt message.

“When I’m standing there writing the message, it just comes from the heart. I don’t have a plan or whatever, it just comes from the heart at the moment,” says DesMarets.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

KHON2 will be airing a special broadcast of the Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony next Monday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, click here.