Volunteer Facilitator since 2022
Dan has been a volunteer facilitator at Erin’s House since 2022! Here's what he has to say about his experiences and some of his favorite parts about volunteering:
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Funny, genuine, and fair.
What are three words you would use to describe Erin’s House?
Fulfilling, challenging, and inspiring.
What led you to becoming a volunteer facilitator at Erin’s House?
I had recently lost my brother to suicide and was still struggling with his death and the guilt that I had felt for not being more aware of his depression. Arby’s was sponsoring Erin’s House in our spring and fall campaigns, and we had come to meet the staff and tour the facility to learn more about the facility. In that tour, we learned the history and the mission of Erin’s House, and I honestly felt an immediate connection and desire to be involved. I felt that if I could help others to cope with their loss, then maybe my brother’s death could have some meaning and be a catalyst for the healing of others.
What do you love about Erin’s House?
The staff at Erin’s House are truly just the best group of people ever assembled. Not sure how they take a group of people who share maybe one thing in common and get us prepared to do something that’s not natural for most of us. Death is hard to deal with and even harder to talk about, but they create an environment where it’s safe and open for not only families, but for volunteers as well. You become a volunteer at Erin’s House because you know how challenging death can be. You may have experienced the loss of a loved one or have witnessed what the loss can do to a family member or friend. You volunteer to change how a stranger grieves and the pain that they experience, but shortly into your tenure, you realize that the difference you're making is not only in a stranger’s life but in your own.
Go-to coffee order?
Not a coffee drinker but I do enjoy Diet Coke.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned while volunteering at Erin’s House?
It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to miss. It’s okay to be sad. And, in all those, you are not alone.
For someone going through grief or supporting a child who is grieving, what encouragement would you give them?
Don’t try and push them to feel better. Pain takes time to process and understand. Encourage them to talk when they are ready, and when they do talk, be prepared to listen no matter what they say. Don’t try and “fix” no matter what your heart says, pain from death can’t be fixed. But, most importantly, if you and your family are struggling, come to Erin’s House and let them help.
If you feel motivated to walk alongside children and teens on their grief journeys as a volunteer group facilitator, we invite you to fill out a volunteer application. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ellen Roemke, Director of Volunteers, if you have any additional questions: Ellen@ErinsHouse.org or 260.423.2466.