Hi all you #AdamsActs warriors out there! I’m Karen and Lara has been kind enough to let me guest blog today so I can introduce you to Ele’s Place, a healing center for grieving children and teens. But first, let me introduce myself and my connection to Lara and her family. Lara’s big sister Kristin was my college roommate and has been my bestie for 25 years! In October of 1992 Kristin and I were a couple of relatively carefree college seniors living in a tiny apartment near campus and preparing to do our student teaching. We were equal parts enjoying our last months as college students and planning our futures. Then the World stopped. Kristin was home for the weekend and on the morning of November 1st she called me. “My brother has died.” I remember trying to make some sense of what she could possibly be talking about, but of course it made exactly zero sense to my 21-year-old college student self. I don’t remember much after that. Mostly I remember that she needed me to call the family she was planning to babysit for that night (which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Kristin; at the worst moment of her life she was worried about others and the commitments she made to them). This, I’ve come to realize, became the first time I companioned a friend through her grief.
Fast forwarding 20 plus years, Kristin and I have supported and cheered each other through weddings, babies, jobs, cross country moves, surgeries and much more. Most recently, Kristin has cheered me on through my mid-life crisis. Thankfully not the kind where I go crazy and act like a child, more the kind where I search for my life purpose and a new career. In the end, I came to realize that I wanted to work with grieving children and I’m sure this life purpose was greatly influenced by Adam’s death and witnessing his family’s grief process, including Lara starting Adam’s Acts. After Kristin helped with some encouragement and prodding, I was led to Ele’s Place Grand Rapids where I started working about 2 months ago. At Ele’s Place we provide peer to peer support groups for children 3-18 who are grieving the death of a parent, sibling or other close family member or friend. We also provide grief support groups to local schools, and education about children’s grief to the community. Ele’s Place vision is for every grieving child in Michigan to have access to compassionate support. Currently there is an Ele’s Place in Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Flint. As I have gotten to know the families at Ele’s Place I can’t help but wish that there had been an Ele’s Place for Adam’s family.
The more I get to know Ele’s Place the more I love them and their mission. Before I started working there I had no idea that Ele’s Place serves all families free of charge. No sliding scale, no income requirements, no billing insurance. We feel that grieving families should not have to worry about where the money will come from to get the support they need. Ele’s Place is 100% funded through donations, volunteers, and community support. I also love the philosophy about grief at Ele’s Place. We believe that grieving is a normal and healthy reaction to death. We do not provide therapy because families who are mourning do not need to be “fixed” they need to be companioned. They need a safe and comforting place to talk about their person who died and receive support from others who are also grieving.
If you feel connected to this mission, please consider doing an #AdamsAct to support Ele’s Place. Here are some ways to help:
* Volunteer – Our support groups are run by volunteers who are trained by our staff. We have the most amazing and dedicated volunteers, some who feel called to help because they experienced a death when they were a child
* Donate goods – We are always in need of office supplies (printer paper, red folders), paper goods (paper plates, napkins, paper towels, cups, bowls etc. for the potluck dinner we serve prior to groups) and art supplies (construction paper, crayons, markers, cardstock)
* Donate money – Every little bit helps us to provide support to local families! If you feel moved to donate remember to include a #AdamsAct so we know your donation is in honor of Adam!
You can bring/send donations to our Grand Rapids office at 2000 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities feel free to email me at email@example.com and I will point you in the right direction. You can find more information about Ele’s Place and how to help grieving children and teens at www.elesplace.org.
A big thank you to Lara, Kristin, BethAnn and Sandi who long ago became my “other” family. Love you guys!