Meet Justin Lauderdale – one of our dedicated board members! Justin joined The WARM Place Board of Directors in October 2020. Members of the board serve an essential role in the ability of The WARM Place to fulfill its mission. Justin is an avid volunteer in the community, having served on various community boards, but Justin holds a special connection with The WARM Place. He and his family attended in 2014 after the death of his son. Read more about Justin and his involvement with The WARM Place below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up here and have lived here all my life except for college at Texas A&M. I am the managing partner of a public accounting firm called Admire Sanford & Lauderdale. I will have been married for 17 years in July to Peyton. Peyton and I have two daughters: Olivia, who is 12 and will be in seventh grade at Aledo Middle School next year, and Maren, who is 8, and will be in 4th grade at St. Paul Lutheran School next year. In addition to serving on the board at The WARM Place, I’ve coached basketball and softball, taught Sunday School, and served on other community boards.
Tell us about how you initially got involved with The WARM Place.
In 2014, my wife and I very unexpectedly lost our son, James, shortly after he was born. Our daughter, Olivia, was 6 at the time and, in the midst of our grief, we struggled tremendously with how to help her process what was going on. For awhile, we kind of floundered around hoping she would learn to deal with it. I don’t remember who all recommended The WARM Place to us, but it was several different people.
What are your favorite events or memories at The WARM Place?
A couple of different events:
1) At one point, shortly before either Christmas or Thanksgiving, we made a “Remembrance Candle”. There was nothing too special about the candle itself; just some kids coloring and writing on the outside of some glass, but we made it together. Six years later, this candle still sits in our home office, and we still break it out and light it for major family events. It reminds me of my time at The WARM Place every time we get it out.
2) We were fortunate to be present for one of the very first Walk to Remember Them events. I don’t think it was nearly as big as it is now, but we had such a good time that day. Someone gave us a picture of Olivia and myself, and it’s still on display in our living room.
What inspired you to join The WARM Place Board of Directors?
Our time as clients of The WARM Place is what inspired me. We had people pour into our family, collectively, but also, individually as mom, dad, and child. The volunteers and employees of The WARM Place made our family feel welcome and most importantly for my daughter, normal.
What excites you the most about being on the board?
The WARM Place is a big organization tasked with a critical, but very hard, mission. I’m excited to be able to work with other people who care so much about the organization and the families that are a part of it. This past year has brought difficult conversations as they relate to finance and operations of many not-for-profits as they navigate COVID. Through it all though, the care and compassion of my fellow board members and the employees of the WARM Place has shown through. These people really REALLY care about the families of The WARM Place.
Why do you think the mission of The WARM Place is important?
Sometimes as adults process grief, it is easy to overlook a child’s grief. It’s easy to dismiss it as something that they either won’t remember or won’t have a lasting impact, but the reality is that they have feelings just as big as adults, but generally lack the skills to handle them. The WARM Place helps those kids and loves those kids and tells those kids that it’s okay to be hurting.
What would you say to other people who are thinking about volunteering at The WARM Place?
The volunteers at The WARM Place have left a tremendous and lasting impact on my child. They made her feel loved and listened to. As a parent, I can think of no greater gift to me, or to my child. There’s no doubt that by volunteering, you will make an outsized impact on a child when they need it the most.
Thank you Justin for your dedication to The WARM Place’s mission! It is always so meaningful when a former family comes back to The WARM Place to serve in any capacity. We are thankful for your leadership and involvement!