March Newsletter

Board Update

I once heard from someone that if the only thing you did today was breathe, that’s okay.  I love that saying and while I don’t know where it’s from, the advice sticks with me.  Sometimes all I need is a little breathing room. Making the time to find places where I can walk without distractions and take in the beauty around me. I like to let my dog lead me to places that I might not otherwise discover.

I’m lucky to have stumbled upon the Healing Center five years ago and to be part of such a special place. Last year we had 360+ people attend our groups, 70 of those being children between the ages of 3 to 18. We also had 190 new people find the Healing Center. We are 6 months into rebuilding the operations and finances of the organization and I’m pleased to report we have made huge progress. There is always more to do, but the Board will begin to update our long-term plans in the coming months. We are actively recruiting and will have new Board members this Spring and we have re-engaged the Advisory Board.  We’ve been busy, and I want to give you some updates.

  • I want to thank all of you who have donated to our GoFundMe campaign for our housing costs. We have 9 days left as we try to raise $48,000. If you haven’t shared the campaign yet within your network, please do so today or re-share an update on our progress.
  • We could not be successful without the tremendous support of our volunteers. Please see the article in this newsletter highlighting their great work.  We recently trained 12 awesome new volunteer group facilitators in January and we’ll be holding a second training later this year. Jeanne, Scott, and Joe (our new Youth Therapist) did a fantastic job running the training!
  • We recently received a grant from the Safe Crossings Foundation to support our children’s programs. We continue to see a strong need for childhood grief support. The 70 kids we saw in group last year was a 40% increase from 2016 and we are on pace to see continued growth, with almost 30 kids attending in January alone. We are grateful for the support from Safe Crossings Foundation as they help fund the growth of our children’s programs.
  • Spring Luncheon – please save the date for our Spring luncheon on May 3rd from 12-1:30pm at the Westin hotel in downtown Seattle. Formal invites will be sent in April.

The last item I want to address is a significant change for the Healing Center. As you’ve heard or read before, we are in the process of rebuilding the organization and ensuring our operations and finances match our program excellence. I created a task force of current and former group participants late last year to explore how we fund our groups. The Healing Center’s funding model has not changed for 18 years and it is no longer sustainable as our groups grow.

Since its founding, we have asked that those attending group drop $20 in a bowl. The donations we collect are not enough to cover current and future costs for group (our therapists time and a portion of the housing costs).  With the recommendations from the task force, we are making a shift in March to charge for group because we want to do our best to ensure that our groups can be funded and become self-sustaining.  We will not turn anyone away if they do not have the ability to pay as we have reduced rates and scholarships. You can find more information about this change on our website.

Be on the lookout this Spring for our first ever (at least in a very long while) Healing Center satisfaction survey.  We want to hear from you on what is working and what we can improve upon. You can always reach the Board with feedback or suggestions.

Be well,

Aaron Reich
Interim Board President

Volunteer Highlight: Kate Ramstedt

What drew you to working with the Healing Center?

My father died of cancer when I was 7 and my brother was 5. We lived in a small community in rural Idaho at the time and there weren’t any resources like The Healing Center and we didn’t know any other kids who could relate to our experience. Looking back I can only imagine the difference a place like THC would have made for us. I really appreciate how The Healing Center makes grief a less isolating and lonely experience.

How long have you volunteered with the Healing Center?

I started volunteering in 2013. I took time off a couple years ago to manage some health issues but have recently started back up.

What kind of volunteer work do you currently do for us?

I typically write thank you letters to THC donors. In the past I have also helped tidy up the art and play rooms upstairs.  I’ve also enjoyed helping out at fundraising events and the May Day walks.

Is there anything else we should know about you? Any interesting hobbies or facts?

I have a counseling private practice and often work with adults who lost a parent as a young child.  I married a travel writer last year and we love exploring new places. When we aren’t traveling, we’re working on fixing up our 114 year old house.

Facilitator Training

We hosted a facilitator training last month. This 15 hour training is required for anyone who is interested in facilitating groups at the Healing Center. Over the course of 3 days, 12 potential volunteers received training on our grief support model. Topics included how to lead balanced, productive group sessions, the difference between the group support model and individual counseling and how to practice self-care as a facilitator.

We are excited to welcome new facilitators into our community!

NW Conference on Childhood Grief

Several members of the Healing Center staff attended the NW conference on Childhood Grief on March 2nd. This is the forth year that the Safe Crossings Foundation has hosted this event. The topic of this year’s symposium was Connecting Children to Support: Addressing Barriers to Service. The conference was a chance for several grief support organizations in the Puget sound area to gather and discuss how we can better serve our community.

A big thank you to the Safe Crossings Foundation for organizing this event!

You can learn more about the conference and the other organizations that attended here.

New York Life Article: Data on Grieving Children

The New York Life Foundation recently released survey data analyzing the effect of the loss of a parent on a child. They found that 57 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers who had lost a parent growing up felt that support tapered off within a mere three months of the loss, with 20 percent saying that support declined after the first week and an additional 21 percent saying after the first month.

Although this survey only analyzed the loss of a parent in childhood, we know that this tapering off of support happens after the death of any loved one, at any age. This is why the Healing Center’s model of continued support is so important. We recognize that grief is an ongoing process and having a community of people who understand this process is vital to life after death.

You can read the entire New York Life article here.

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