June Newsletter

Board Update

Photo: Brenda Alvarez, May 2018

One of my favorite national parks is Joshua Tree National Park in California.  There is just something about the desert and the stillness that I find restorative.  Joshua trees are fast growers for a desert climate and while it is top-heavy, it has an extensive and deep root system, expanding down and out to 36 feet.  It can survive for hundreds or even thousands of years.
The Healing Center just turned 18 and we’ve been in our little alley house for 13 years.  Like the Joshua trees, the
Healing Center has deep roots in the grief community and we are gearing up for what will be phenomenal 2018-2019 for us to thrive and grow.
Almost a year ago, The Healing Center Board of Directors made several leadership changes and put in an all-out effort to save The Healing Center. I’m happy to report The Healing Center is well on its way to many more years of helping those find healing with their grief.  We would not be here today without the tremendous support of you: our clients, donors, friends, family and broader community. I want to highlight what has been going on the past few months and what you can expect in the fall.
  • The Community of Hope Luncheon was our most successful luncheon event to date. We netted about $70,000. I want to thank our donors and our speakers; Travis Mayfield, Kath McCormack, Tom Hall and all our Healing Center storytellers. It was the most powerful program I have experienced in recent years. We’d love for you all to join us at our fall event, Oktoberfest on September 28th at Block 41. An official save the date will be sent this month.
  • We also participated in GiveBig on May 9th, raising almost $20,000. Thank you to everyone who donated during GiveBig this year.
  • On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Scott Rutledge for his 9 years of service as one of our therapists. Scott has decided to move on and we are going to miss him. Scott’s last day was May 31st.
  • The Healing Center is currently seeking a Clinical Director who will be the clinical leader for all our programs and therapists. This is a key position we have had vacant for almost a year.  We have several fantastic candidates that are currently going through our interview process. If you know of anyone, please reach out to jobs@healingcenterseattle.org.
  • I am excited to welcome four new board members and we can’t wait for you all to meet them! They just finished board orientation and are attending their first board meeting this month. Part of our continued success requires that we add new members and perspectives around grief to our community. We plan to add another small cohort of board members in the Fall.
  • The Healing Center will not be holding a summer camp for kids this year, but we will offer our children groups once a month. Click here to view our summer children group schedule. Our full schedule of children programming will return in October.
  • This summer the Board and our Advisory Committee will be spending time to plan and ensure the future sustainability of The Healing Center. You will receive a full report on our plans in the September newsletter. Part of our planning will involve reviewing your feedback from the client survey we launched in early June. This is the first survey we’ve done in a long time (over 3 years).
I want to thank everyone again for all your continued support. Please take time for yourself and family this summer and if you ever need anything or have concerns, just reach out to me (aaron@healingcenterseattle.org) or the board ( board@healingcenterseattle.org).
Be well,
Aaron Reich
Interim Board President

Welcome our New Board Members

Alison Howard

Alison Howard is an assistant general counsel at Microsoft and specializes in privacy law.  Alison’s husband, Clint Chase, died on November 25, 2015, while they were mountain-climbing in Ecuador.  She is a client of the Healing Center and grateful for the early group and transition group for invaluable help with her grief.

Amy Gutmann

Amy Gutmann is an Executive Vice President at Edelman, and is an accomplished communications marketing professional with more than 25 years of experience in consumer and enterprise technology, corporate and crisis communications, brand and positioning, product PR, digital marketing and social media, corporate social responsibility, television production and promotions. Amy’s husband of 29 years, Eric Friedman, passed away October, 2015 suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 55. Amy was a participant in the Early Group at the Healing Center.

Julie Arguez

Julie Arguez is a clinical social worker in private practice working with children, teens and adults in the Seattle area with a specialty in grief and loss.  She is an adjunct faculty member at the school of Social Work at the University of Washington and has a strong commitment to robust grief support services for the Seattle community.

Maygan Wurzer

Maygan Wurzer is the Founder & Director of All That Dance, a Seattle dance studio which has grown from a small business to the largest dance school in the state of Washington since its opening 23 years ago. All That Dance offers comprehensive, body positive dance education in many different dance genres for students ages two years old through adult. Building on her experience as a public school educator, Maygan has helped develop curriculum for the many different styles of dance offered at All That Dance and has grown her staff to include over 20 of the city’s best dance educators.
Maygan’s proudest accomplishments are two amazing teenage boys. She is a former client at the Healing Center having attended Early Group, Transitions, and Perspectives after her husband died in 2012.

Scott’s Departure

After almost 9 years with The Healing Center, Scott Rutledge, one of our therapists, left The Healing Center at the end of May. Scott has helped hundreds of individuals through the some of the most difficult times in their lives and we are grateful for all that he has done for us over the years. We wish him the best of luck on his future endeavors!

Client Spotlight: Katherine Buhl

I began attending the Young Adult Group following the suicide of my twenty-two-year-old brother in 2013. I was an eighteen-year-old freshman attending Seattle University at the time. A fourth-year student suggested I attend the Young Adult Group at The Healing Center and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Joining the Healing Center community connected me with  people who could understand my grief and were going through similar struggles. Prior to joining The Healing Center community, I felt very alone in my grief. One notable message I received in every group, one that I continue to remind myself of, is the importance of practicing self-care.
It’s been a little over five years since I first walked into the Healing Center. I am currently a post baccalaureate student attending Washington State University, pursuing my dream of becoming a physician. It will be a long journey, but I know with hard work, persistence, and the continued practice of self-care, I will reach my goal.

Volunteer Spotlight: Diana Stoll

How did you first hear about The Healing Center and how did you get involved in volunteering?
My volunteering is a very personal and private thing for me, so it’s difficult for me to answer this.
In May 2007, my brother David died by suicide. I was living in California at the time, and I found a local grief support group, which was the most helpful thing to me in processing my grief.  I knew that when I felt ready and strong enough, that I wanted to help others in the way that this group helped me.
My husband and I moved to the Seattle area in 2012. I was ready to “give back,” and so I searched and found The Healing Center.
I volunteer because it is my way of expressing gratitude for the help and support I received when I needed it. I also see it as a part of my brother’s legacy:  every person I meet at the Healing Center is someone I know because of him. If I am able to help someone in his or her grief, even in the slightest way, that good energy comes from David. It’s my way of keeping him a very real and active part of my life.
How long have you volunteered with The Healing Center?
I believe I started volunteering at The Healing Center in late 2012 or early 2013.
What kind of volunteer work have you done for The Healing Center?
For a while, I helped out in the office one afternoon each week.  My Newfoundland, Glory, and I were a Therapy Dog team before she “retired,” and we visited with the kids’ group, Healing Club 4-5-6. Currently, I’m a co-facilitator for the Young Adult Group.
Is there any additional information you would like to share?  Any interesting hobbies or facts?
I am a full-time dog mom!  My two dogs, Shaftoe and Glory, are elderly now and require a great deal of my time and attention, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My husband and my dogs are my favorite creatures in this world, and our life together here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest gives me great joy.

Community of Hope Luncheon

On May 3rd The Healing Center held our 2018 Community of Hope Luncheon. This was our most successful luncheon to date, raising around $70,000. Our event was hosted by Travis Mayfield of Q13 Fox News. The program included an introduction by our founder, Kath McCormack, a keynote presentation from Tom Hall and a chance for some of our current and former group participants to share their story with our guests. Thank you to all of our guests, donors and volunteers who helped to make this event a success.


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.


December Newsletter

Board Update

This time of year, as we shift into winter, the Board takes time for reflection and give thanks.  We could not be more grateful to you, our community, who provide support in so many ways.  We have had a busy summer and fall as we continue to navigate leadership changes and execute a plan the Board put in place in June to strengthen the organization.  We have made great progress in the last six months to increase our business acumen and fundraising, but we aren’t where we need to be financially. When an organization has been running from event to event for funding like the Healing Center has, it takes a while to shift out of that grind and broaden to other funding sources to become sustainable.  I like looking to history as a guide and to ensure we stay true to our mission and that we keep growing and learning.  I looked through our newsletter archives and found the winter newsletter from 2008.  Here is a snippet from our founder, Kath McCormack:

“Two years ago, we were just settling into our new home in the Ravenna district of Seattle. We were so thrilled to finally have a central location; a place where all our programs could be under one roof… It is amazing how far we have come in the last two years. About two hundred people a month come through our doors to receive comfort, support and the companionship of others who are trying to navigate the stormy sea of grief. We really are a community; a safe harbor. I would have given anything to have a place like this when my family and I were looking for support.”

Since January 2017, we have had over 350 group participants, almost every night of the week.  That’s over 220 adults, 60 young adults, and 70 kids, many who come week to week for support.

I want to thank all of you who have helped to make this safe place possible: our donors, our volunteers, our dedicated staff and interns.  Most of all I want to thank those of you who are grieving and who have trusted us to help ease your load. You are the reason we are here.

If you can this holiday season, please think about The Healing Center and the support you received. Please make a donation to give the gift of comfort, hope and healing to an adult or children grieving the death of a loved one.

A client shared many years ago: “Thank you [Healing Center] for wrapping your arms around us and standing quietly by our sides as we travel through this very unpredictable and painful journey of grief. The calmness and understanding that you show renews my faith, hope and trust that as I continue this journey I am the only one that can design my life as I need it to be. Thank you for this wonderful place of healing and forever friends!”

On behalf of the Board and Staff, have Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!

Aaron Reich
Interim Board President

Holiday Office Closures

The Healing Center office will be closed from December 22nd through January 2nd for the holidays. All groups during this time will be cancelled. Please refer to our Google calendar for a more detailed view on the cancellations.

Click here to access the google calendar. 

Please feel free to reach out to the office with any questions or concerns. If you have an emergency during this time, call 911 or the 24 hour crisis line at 206-461-3222.

Client Highlight

Jill Deckman Cooper

At Oktoberfest this year, Jill Deckman Cooper shared her story about the The Healing Center:

“At first it was a safe haven to grieve our loss, then it became a place where powerful connections were formed, after that it became a mirror that reflected how far we’ve come, and now it is like an old friend that I can call on whenever we are in need. I’m forever grateful for The Healing Center for helping us through the most difficult time in our lives.”

~Jill D. Cooper, widow of John H. Cooper who died on May 14, 2014 and mom of Dylan and Lila Cooper

 

Volunteer Highlight

Julie Plaut Warwick

Julie has been volunteering with the Healing Center since Winter 2013.  In one of her first experiences with the Healing Center, she participated in the May Walk, which that year coincided with World Laughter Day.  Julie still remembers how amazing it was to see people who were reflective and thinking about their loved ones who had died break into laughter one by one.  The following month, Julie became certified as a laughter yoga leader and began to incorporate it into programs at the Healing Center.

Julie interned at the Healing Center from 2013-2014 and helped facilitate all children’s’ groups.  In September of 2014 she graduated with a degree in Counseling from Antioch and traveled to India to get certified as a laughter yoga teacher by Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter yoga.  She has been a facilitator for the Littles Group and Healing Club 1-2-3 ever since.

Along with using her skills as a therapist, Julie is now traveling around the world as an inspirational speaker who provides keynote speeches, training and workshops. You can visit her webpage (www.connectingthepeaces.com)  for a listing of her workshops and to find out more about laughter yoga.

Although we miss Julie during her travels, we are grateful for her many years of service with The Healing Center.

Holiday Party

Our annual holiday party and potluck was held on December 5th. The holidays can be a difficult time after the death of the loved one. This event was a chance for the Healing Center community to get together and celebrate the holidays in a safe and supportive environment. In addition to a delicious potluck, the children were paid a visit from Santa and received many gifts.

A big thank you to Toy’s for Kids, Rick Rizzs and Resa Moore for spreading holiday magic and providing toys for the children in our programs. The holidays can be stressful and overwhelming, but seeing the gratitude and excitement in the kids faces started off the holiday season with a ray of positive light.

 

Surviving the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time when you have experience the death of a loved one. The article Finding Light in the Darkness: Grieving Through The Holidays can hopefully give some insight on how to take care of yourself and honor your loved one during this time of year.

Click here to access the article.


October Newsletter

From the Board of Directors

Each Fall I’m reminded of the power of The Healing Center.  My mom passed away 5 years ago and I was lucky enough to find The Healing Center and our Young Adult group.  For the previous two years, I attended the Ceremony of Remembrance and while difficult, it was amazing to sit there and listen to our clients share stories about their loved ones.  Last year after telling a story about my mom, a woman came up and thanked for me sharing.  Her husband had passed recently and she had a son about my age.  Until I told my story, she hadn’t thought about the perspective of her son and the support he may want or need.  That is the power of The Healing Center, allowing us to come together as a community and heal.

It’s been a busy few months at The Healing Center as we’ve been going through some transition.  We had a great Oktoberfest event and our programs are continuing with children’s groups starting this month.  We still have a ton more work to do, but we could not do it without the help of our phenomenal staff and volunteers.  We’ll be sharing more of our plan for the remainder of our fiscal year in a future newsletter, which you will begin receiving quarterly.

As we move into the holiday season, we know this is a hard time for many.  We are here for any support that you need.  Take care of yourselves and if you haven’t stopped by The Healing Center in a while, drop by Monday thru Thursday as we have some new staff and they’d love to meet you.

Best wishes,

Aaron Reich, Interim Board President

Children’s Groups Schedule 

Children’s groups will be starting again this month!

  • Littles: Every 1st and 3rd Wednesday
  • Healing Club 1-2-3: Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday
  • Healing Club 4-5-6: Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday
  • Teen Group: Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday

All of our children’s groups are from 4-5:30pm

For more information about the schedule for all of our groups, please visit our google calendar.

Welcome Our New Staff Members

We are happy to welcome three new staff members to our team.

Alicia Barry

Operations Manager

A native New Yorker, Alicia fell in love with nonprofits when she was only a teenager. Inspired by a year of volunteering at the ASPCA, Alicia quickly developed a deep passion for charitable work.

Before joining The Healing Center, Alicia worked as the Senior Manager, Operations and Parent Education and Support Services at Ramapo for Children. Through direct service youth programs and highly regarded training programs for adults, Ramapo works on behalf of children who face obstacles to learning, including children with special needs, enabling them to succeed in the classroom, at home, and in life.

Alicia graduated with honors from the State University of New York Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Communication and a minor in Art History.

In her spare time, Alicia enjoys reading, practicing yoga, and cooking for her friends and family.

Kayla Erickson

Administrative Assistant

Kayla graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in Human Services. During her time at Western, she interned with the YWCA of Bellingham and with the independent living skills program at Youthnet, which helps youth transition out of foster care. She has also worked as a case aide at Secret Harbor,  where she provided recreation and mentorship for foster youth. Kayla is excited to join such a welcoming and supportive community at the Healing Center.

Joe Fuentes

Youth Therapist 

Joe relocated to the State of Washington in March of 2017.  In addition to his work at the Healing Center, Joe is a Bilingual Mental Health Therapist, providing services for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States. Much of his experience has been working with children, teenagers and families. Joe is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in the State of Washington and California.  Joe tries incorporate mindfulness and body work in his work and is hoping there might be an opportunity for to practice these skills at the Healing Center. In his spare time he enjoy running, hiking, writing music, watching baseball, and being in nature.

Our Latest Events

Oktoberfest 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to all of those who attended our annual Oktoberfest event held on September 15th at Block 41.  It was a fun evening and grossed almost $115,000 to directly maintain and support our programs.  We moved into a new space this year at Block 41 and the combination of the larger space and outdoor area allowed for some fun wine toss games before the live auction started.

Ceremony of Remembrance

Our annual Ceremony of Remembrance took place from 2-4pm on October 7th at the Northgate Community Center. This is a moving ceremony that happens once a year and is a chance to honor  loved ones in a beautiful setting with other friends from The Healing Center. We had almost 50 clients attend who were gracious enough to share photos, items and stories to help commemorate the life and love that they shared with their person.

 

 

Upcoming Events

Holiday Party

Our annual holiday party will take place on December 5 and includes a visit from Santa and gifts for the kids.  We will be sending a save-the-date shortly.

Helping Children Move Through the Grief Process

Since our children’s groups are starting again, we thought it may be appropriate to share an article about helping children cope with grief. This article, titled Helping Children Cope With Loss, Death, and Grief, is a good resource for helping children move through grief in a developmentally appropriate way.