The Caring Place – Childhood Grief Awareness Day - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Graduate Studies Uncategorized
November 30, 2017

The Caring Place – Childhood Grief Awareness Day

Volunteer Reflection
Kelly L. Conner
November 2017

In November 2017, our M.A. in Counseling class volunteered at The Caring Place during their yearly open house for Childhood Grief Awareness Day.  After visiting this location earlier in the semester with our class, I was already a little bit familiar with their incredible staff and the unique support they offer families with children who are grieving.  They do this service completely free of charge, which is another reason why this organization is so amazing. 

After my experience volunteering at this event, I am even more enthralled with everyone and everything at The Caring Place and have registered to become a regular volunteer for future events.

My station at the event was at the basket raffle table with another student from our class.  The work at the station was relatively small and simple, but no less important.  As the children and teens made their way into the event, our job was to provide them with raffle tickets to place in baskets of their choosing.  We also recorded the ticket numbers given to each person and wrote down first names and contact information to notify them of any winnings. 

After visiting and participating in the many activities throughout the building, the children and teens reported back to our table to show us their completed “passports” stamped from each station.  Then we would watch them place their tickets in the baskets of their choosing.  The baskets were generously donated from local establishments and organizations.  I enjoyed watching their excitement as they looked at the prizes, carefully pondering which baskets to choose.

In addition to observing the young participants and their families enjoy the food and activities, I also appreciated the invitation to bring my family to the event.  I brought two of my children with me expecting to have them assist in our volunteer efforts.  Instead, the staff encouraged them to enjoy the festivities with the others.  As I worked at my station, I was moved to see my children maneuvering from station to station, thoroughly enjoying every moment.  It helped me to realize that children who are navigating through grief are not any different from children who have yet to experience such losses.  They desire to do fun things, connect with others, and not be treated any different from their non-grieving peers.  This is my biggest take-away from this service learning experience. 

Another insight from this experience is how differently each participant found their way throughout the many rooms and stations.  Some went with full-force, intent to visit each activity.  Others went slower, choosing only to participate in the activities that appealed to their interests.  No matter how they chose to traverse the night’s activities, they were no less eager to show us their “passports” and reveal their favorite parts of the evening. 

I think that this parallels how children can grieve differently from other children.  Each child experiences the grieving process in a unique way.  And now matter how they experience it, they need reassurance as they continue to experience the spiral of grief.  Grief is a never-ending process that waxes and wanes throughout the course of one’s life.  It is a difficult process for adults to move through, but for children I can imagine it would be even more challenging. 

I am grateful for The Caring Place and the very special work they are carrying out with these children.  I pray that they continue to do the work they are doing and that they continue to grow as an organization to reach even more grieving children and their families.

The Geneva College Master's in Counseling program provides important and unique service learning opportunities that prepare students to be the professionals and people that families, communities and organizations need. To learn more about the Geneva M.A. in Counseling in PA program, visit us at http://www.geneva.edu/graduate/counseling/