June 2019 Newsletter
Hi, it’s been a while. In fact, I think the last time you heard from us was December and for that I apologize. There is so much going on—including some amazing updates I want to share with you on the behalf of the board. Before I get to our news, I want to recap our journey over the last two years to provide context. Back in the summer of 2017, The Healing Center was on the precipice of closing. I’m so pleased that since then we’ve hired an Operations Director, a new Clinical Director, and kept programs running without interruption. We used the money raised from the GoFundMe campaign in January 2018 to help pay our housing costs last year. During the past year, our meeting space got a fresh coat of paint as well as new furniture and our little house in the alley is looking amazing. If you haven’t visited recently, I encourage you to swing by and see for yourself.
Our groups have continued to grow, and demand for our services has never been greater. All of you have provided the support and encouragement we’ve needed to get through two years of rebuilding. We’ve grown the board from three members in Summer 2017 to our current ten members. Last month, we added 3 new board members.
The most exciting news I have to share is that The Healing Center has a new Executive Director, Chase Huffman. Chase will have a recurring spot in this newsletter starting this month, so read on for his comments. We can’t wait for you all to meet Chase and see how amazing he is.
The Healing Center’s program services still require a little more tweaking to ensure we have the right grief programs in place, the right number of therapists to those support groups and that The Healing Center has a sustainable funding model. Our new and highly engaged Board in addition to Chase are the right team to guide The Healing Center into the future. You’ll be seeing more communications from Chase and we’ll be hosting an open house in the fall where our supporters will be able to meet him and the new board members.
Sadly, this will be my last note to you as Interim Board President. It’s been a challenging, but extremely rewarding experience being able to help lead The Healing Center to where it’s at today. Our board will be holding elections this summer and until then Kim Kelly along with a few other board members will be stepping up. I’m not going far and will be joining The Healing Center’s Advisory Board. I hope to see you all at our fall event, Oktoberfest on October 4th.
Please be well and I know our paths will cross again.
Message from Chase Huffman, Executive Director
Today marks almost three weeks as the Executive Director of The Healing Center and I am excited to join this incredible organization.
My first few weeks have been spent learning about the strong community at The Healing Center that has been built by the staff, volunteers, and donors. This has been a powerful start to a great adventure.
As I continue to learn more about The Healing Center and meet members of our community, please feel free to reach out and say hello. I look forward to having the opportunity to connect with all of the members of our strong community and to dig into the opportunities and obstacles we face as an organization.
Over the coming weeks, I look forward to working with the staff to learn more about our great work and building ways to strengthen our community. I want to thank you for your continued and ongoing support of The Healing Center. I look forward to leading the team in driving our mission, living our values, and serving our communities every day.
January 1st, 2018 my wife, Alice, died of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. She was diagnosed as stage III September 2016. All of her treatments (mastectomy, chemo, and radiation) were completed May 5th 2017 and we were hopeful about her recovery. In July 2017, she had pain in her shoulder blades that was a tumor in her liver. We started chemo treatment again, but the cancer was too aggressive. After a trip to Disneyland in early December, she was enrolled in hospice care and died at home the evening of New Year’s Day.
Our son Lucas was 2-3 during her cancer and probably doesn’t remember a time when his mom wasn’t sick. He’s 4 now and we both went to The Healing Center looking for help through our grieving process.
Finding people who actually get it. Very few people truly understand what it’s like to have someone you love be with you one second, with all of the potential of the future stretching out ahead of you, and then the next second have all of it ripped away. When it happened to me I felt like one entire side of my body had been torn off and everything was exposed and raw to the world. Being able to just sit with a group of people who know that feeling is really helpful, even though none of us want anyone to ever feel that again.
My son, Lucas, benefits from Littles Group as well. He gets excited the whole week before group and loves every minute of being there. Afterwards he’s noticeably calmer and happier. We both regret it any time we miss a Littles Group!
Now that I’m more than a year out, I’ve been able to rebuild parts of my life. I still feel like I’m running close to capacity, but have some breathing room. I have learned that it’s ok to depend on other people sometimes. As I move to Transition Group, I’m interested to find ways to continue growing as new challenges arise in the coming years.
That each day comes with its own unique challenges. Some days will be easy and everything will go smoothly. Other days the big accomplishment is getting out of bed. I have learned to constantly remind myself of that and not be too self-critical when times are tough.
It’s also really helpful to remind myself that everyone grieves in their own way and time and there’s no wrong way to do it. Anyone who tells you otherwise should mind their own business.
I’ve been dating someone who really loves Lucas and has a son of her own! We’re working out how to build our lives together.
Now for the hard-hitting questions: What is Lucas’ favorite thing to do or thing to play with at The Healing Center?
Lucas loves playing doctor and cooking in the kitchen with his friends are The Healing Center.
Volunteer Highlight: Tobin Langford
I came to volunteer at The Healing Center as a way to earn hours for the practicum in my Mental Health Counseling Master’s program. I was drawn to The Healing Center specifically because you had a group that was focused on serving seniors, The Memory Keepers group. After doing the training, I was moved by the mission of the organization and the methods used. I appreciated that they are pure support groups that really provide an opportunity for the group members to connect and support each other. It has been incredibly moving to watch members be open and vulnerable in sharing their experiences so that those around them feel less alone and have a chance to move through their own grief.
I did the majority of my volunteering with the Memory Keepers group and it was an honor to share space with them, to be allowed in on their journeys. Recently, I have volunteered with the Thursday Adult General Loss group. This has been a rich experience for me as an emerging mental health counselor to be reminded of the many ways grief can touch our lives. The members of this group are also incredibly open and generous in their support of one another, despite sometimes very different journeys. It has been truly humbling to witness the generosity of spirit in that group as well as the deep suffering they are working through. To bear witness to the members of each group face their grief and choose to give themselves the time and space to find community and support has been a gift for me.
As I begin my work in community mental health as a mental health counselor, I hope to keep with me the lessons of this experience. I will hold close to my grateful heart the lessons of community, vulnerability, resilience, self-acceptance, and humility. And I will leave room for a small flame in my heart that I will be able to volunteer again one day.