Did you know that it requires 20 volunteers to run a successful evening of support groups at The WARM Place? That’s a lot of committed volunteers! We have two different types of volunteers that make our grief support program possible: Houseparents and Group Facilitators. Houseparents are responsible for greeting families upon arrival and assisting with the evening meal preparation and clean up. Group Facilitators participate in extensive training to provide a nurturing, safe environment for children to process their grief. Our grief support program is primarily run by these volunteers who take the time to serve grieving families in our community. Jo Connelly is one of these dedicated volunteers who serves as both a Houseparent and Group Facilitator! Read below about Jo and the difference she is making for WARM Place families.
What is your occupation?
I am currently retired after 35 years with Lockheed Martin, both in Southern California and here in Fort Worth. I worked in Security & Emergency Services, as an Industrial Security Representative, supporting the U-2, F-117, F-22, F-35, B-2 structural test for Northrop Grumman, and many other Advanced Development Programs. It’s not a career I sought out. I just kind of fell into it, and I am so grateful. I worked with some of the most amazing people… employees, customers and government personnel. I have so many memories of the people I worked with and remain close to most of them to this day. The job was exciting, but the people I met along the way have and continue to bless my life.
What was your favorite activity/hobby as a child?
I grew up in an era where we got home from school, changed our clothes, and went outside to play until we were told to come in. We did whatever we thought was fun at the time. We listened to music (and danced with abandon) and just hung out with family and friends. I guess to some degree, I still do all those things.
What brought you to The WARM Place (TWP) as a volunteer?
I’ve always had a heart for children. I had a conversation with another WARM Place volunteer several months before retirement and shared with her my desire to volunteer/support the children at TWP, and that I felt led to do so. I’ll never forget her response. She told me: If you feel led to do it, you need to do it. A few weeks after I retired, I signed up.
How long have you been a volunteer at TWP?
Three short years, but it’s just the beginning. I can’t imagine not being part of this incredible organization that changes the lives of children in the most profound way. I volunteer as a Facilitator with Pre-Teens, with my co-facilitators Jim and Ann. I also volunteer in the kitchen, with a merry band of volunteers who provide set-up and clean-up support for the meals we share with families and volunteers. It’s pretty incredible to share a meal with TWP staff, volunteers, and children as one big happy (healing) family.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering?
My favorite thing about volunteering at TWP is the children. I am so inspired by their resiliency, as well as their willingness to share their deepest thoughts and feelings. I can honestly say that what I do for these kids pales in comparison to what I receive from them. Additionally, my co-facilitators and TWP staff never cease to amaze me with their ideas on how to better serve the children who participate in the program.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting involved at TWP?
As the saying goes…just do it. TWP truly is a “one big happy family” experience. The volunteers, staff, and families that participate in the program have become family to me. To be a part of the process that literally changes the life of a child, by providing tools for them to process grief associated with a death loss, is something you’ll carry in your heart always.
Thank you to Jo and all our incredible volunteers! If you would like to join the family and become a volunteer, please apply here. If you have any questions about volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.