Our grief support groups are primarily led by volunteers who have given their heart and time to help WARM Place families. WARM Place volunteers make a one-year minimum commitment to serve as a facilitator after their training. However, most of our volunteers continue for much longer than one year. Christi Thornhill, DNP, RN, CPNP-AC, is one of our dedicated volunteers who has been with us since 2013. Christi is also a generous donor and serves as the Vice President of our Board of Directors. Read below about Christi and the difference she is making for WARM Place families.
What is your occupation and for how long?
I have been a nurse for 29 years and a nurse practitioner for 19 of those 29 years. I worked as an emergency nurse, flight nurse, and emergency nurse practitioner before going to work at Cook Children’s Medical Center in 2008. At that time, I changed my focus to 100% pediatrics. I am currently the Director of Trauma services, CARE Team clinic, Fostering Health Program, and Clinical Surgical Excellence Program. I continue to see patients in the CARE Team clinic.
What was your favorite activity/hobby as a child?
I had several things I loved as a kid. Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and the invention of the Kindle has been a life changer. I was also a very active kid…I loved swimming, gymnastics, soccer, cheerleading, and camping.
What brought you to TWP as a volunteer?
I learned about The WARM Place when I started working at Cook Children’s. Our families who experience the loss of a child and have other children are given information about The WARM Place. When I began volunteering at Camp El Tesoro de la Vida, a grief camp for children, I realized just how much children needed to learn a healthy way to walk in their grief journey. I also discovered that one week a year was not enough! At that time, Shelley Spikes was the volunteer coordinator for The WARM Place and a camp volunteer. I began asking her about The WARM Place and what it meant to be a volunteer facilitator. I signed up for the next orientation, and the rest is history!
What is your favorite thing about volunteering?
The kids, of course! I have volunteered in the pre-teen group and currently in the teen group. I am amazed each week at how introspective and wise these kids are, and how much I learn from them. I love seeing how quickly a child who can barely say their own name on their first night changes to the child who is sharing, laughing, and mentoring a new child in the group. It is incredible to see the change in these kids and knowing they are learning ways to handle the waves of grief that hit you when you least expect it!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting involved at TWP?
Do it! I think people are concerned that it is going to be tears and sadness all the time. I let them know there are some tears and sadness, but there is a lot of fun and laughter, too! I think volunteering allows us to get out of our own little worlds and learn that giving yourself to others is very rewarding. I absolutely love the time I get to spend with these kids and look forward to my volunteer nights!
We are beyond grateful for Christi and all our incredible volunteers! If you are interested in volunteering, please apply here! Our next training starts in February 2020.