Volunteer Facilitator since 2010
I am often asked how I can handle volunteering at Erin's House. People say, "I could never do that, because it would be too sad. Isn't it just so sad?" The answer is no. Not all the time. Yes, we cry sometimes. But we also laugh. A LOT!
Children and teens come to Erin’s House scared, sad, and heartbroken. They might be feeling isolated from their friends at school, because the other students don't understand what it is like to have someone die. They are overwhelmed and, many times, barely holding it together. Often, they try to hide or minimize their grief from their family since the adults around them are also grieving.
They talk about how they put on a brave face and try to be strong for others when they are truly suffering. Remember – kids grieve, too.
In their peer-support groups at Erin's House, children and teens get to take off the brave face, let go, and just be a kid supported by other kids who understand them. The peer-to-peer support is the key ingredient to the success of Erin's House. These kids go deep and talk about things most adults never think or talk about:
“What was the last thing you said to your loved one?”
“What do you wish you could have said?”
“If you had one more day with your person, what would you do?”
And then, just when you think your heart is literally going to break, someone will tell a funny memory or say something that makes us all laugh hysterically! We laugh way more than we cry. They need to know it is okay to laugh again. It feels good for them to laugh again. Sometimes, it is the first time they have laughed since their person died.
I have had teens tell me if it wasn't for Erin's House, they might not here today. For some children and teens, Erin’s House is their only safe space to talk about what they are going through. This place is CRUCIAL for our community.
As a volunteer facilitator, I have the honor to hear about the memories of the kids’ loved ones and the privilege to be a part of their grief journeys.
I commit to two nights a month for two and a half hours each night. Erin's House has all the Healing Heart activities ready to go making it easy for the facilitators to grab and go. Plus, you receive great training that educates and prepares you for groups.
The children and teens are my heroes. They are the reason I keep volunteering year after year. The way they support each other is inspiring and it is truly a blessing to witness.
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 reach out to Ellen Roemke, Director of Volunteers, if you have any additional questions: Ellen@ErinsHouse.org or 260.423.2466.