fall appeal 2021
fall appeal 2021
In November 2016, my brother died in a car accident. We had been working on getting him sober since March and already had his kids living with us. I didn’t know how to tell my 3-year-old niece, Lori-Jo, or my 2-year-old nephew, Kyle, who has autism, that their father died. I called the Center. Lori-Jo and I started attending peer support groups in early 2017, and from the moment we walked in, I could feel the Center’s special aura. I knew that I was amongst people who were in similar circumstances – I could actually have friendships with those who understood me.
Lori-Jo didn’t know how to tell me that she was sad in the beginning. But she really enjoyed Memorial Night each year, and through this, I saw her build resilience. We call the day my brother died “Daddy Angel Day” which is actually very close to Memorial Night. We got Lori-Jo and Kyle a stuffed animal with a picture of my brother holding both of them. On the first Memorial Night, Lori-Jo was too scared to share anything, but by the second year, she shared her “Daddy doll” and let everyone hold and hug him.
Around Christmas of 2019, Lori-Jo thought she no longer needed to attend groups. We took a small break. However, during that time, her fish died, which resurfaced feelings of grief. We returned to groups (virtually, due to Covid-19) until Lori-Jo said: “You know, Auntie, I think I’m ok now. I know how to tell you when I’m sad, I know how to talk about my feelings. I think I need to give my spot to somebody else.”
The Center has magic because it teaches families how to cope with a huge loss, and even smaller losses, like losing our fish. We held a funeral for the fish, left flowers at its little grave, and Lori-Jo read a poem. She said that was how she needed to get closure because she never had it with her Dad – he was just gone. One of the magical things that the Center taught us was how to have rituals and goodbyes.
I always try to give more than I receive, but I could never give the Center the amount that I have received. At one point, my husband lost his job and we didn’t have any income, but Lori-Jo and I were still able to have that routine and outlet, for which I’m forever grateful.
I invite you to join us in giving back to the Center by making a lasting impact through a gift so that more children, teens, and families can have a safe space to grieve, find hope and love, and build resilience, no matter how long it takes.
With gratitude and warm thanks,