I first became aware of The WARM Place as a resource for a practicum site while I was attending graduate school. The year was 2000, and I was so excited to learn about with the work that was being done to help grieving children deal with their death losses.
At that time, I was in my second career in telecom and busy being a single parent to three teenagers. I attended the training to become a facilitator and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Though I worked in Las Colinas, I tried to never miss a session, because I knew that part of the children’s healing depended on the facilitators’ consistent involvement with them in group. Because our groups are open-ended, we welcome new children to join our existing groups which include children at various milestones in their grief journey. Most often when a new child comes to group they bring a look of profound sadness and despair. As they attend our sessions on a regular basis, a transformation takes place as they take on a more relaxed demeanor and a spirit of hopefulness. You might wonder what makes the difference since we do not do counseling or therapy. The simple fact is that allowing children the opportunity to share their feelings and their memories (good and bad) in a safe environment with other children, who have had a similar loss, is the key to their healing. Now as a staff member leading adult groups, I feel honored to be a part of their stories of loss and their genuine concern for their children. They, too, make a similar transformation as they recognize the change in their children and feel hope for the future. We are not here to help the children get over their grief, but rather to companion them as they work through their grief and come out on the other side with the ability to grow and mature into well-adjusted members of society. As we head into April which is National Volunteer Month, it is a time to reflect and celebrate the dedication of the many volunteers who come week after week to be present for the children and make sure that they know that we are here for them. Our volunteers truly are the heart of our program.
-Shirley Bowen, Executive Director