Posted: 12/1/21 by Julia Dunn, M.Ed., LPC (Program Director)
Three quarters of the staff at Olivia’s House loves football . . . however, our Clinical Director, Julia, barely knows the difference between a touchdown and a homerun! When Executive Director, K.C., shared an article about the Green Bay Packers, Julia was ready to skim over it until some key words caught her eye. An article about football . . . and grief? This was worth a read!
If you didn’t catch it, in September 2021, The Washington Post ran a story about Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones. During a Monday night game, Aaron played his best and had points to show for it; however, his excitement was quickly overshadowed by the realization that he had dropped something on the field – a necklace containing his late father’s cremains. An occurrence that might strike panic in one’s heart, Aaron saw it not as a loss, but rather as a connection to his father. He shared that his dad would have been proud to see his son make it into the end zone so many times, the place where he likely lost the necklace.
Now, if you know Olivia’s House, you know that we believe in the power of community. And it seems that this football team holds the same values. The same evening that Mr. Jones lost his necklace, the team trainer scoured the field searching for this important possession, only to find it – you guessed it – in the end zone.
There is one more element to this story that makes it all the more special. After the necklace-losing incident, the Packers decided to sew a “necklace holder” pocket into Aaron’s jersey so that he could continue keeping his father close to his heart, never worrying that it may slip off again.
Our team was touched by this story – not only by the coming together of the team, but also by Mr. Jones’s willingness to share the experience. So often, our methods of ritualizing and remembering our loved ones are kept private, which can de-normalize an experience that we all share – mourning the loss of someone we have loved.
Posted: 11/1/21 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)
When I was seven years old, my mother would pay me a quarter for each chore I completed around the house. It took me all week to earn enough quarters to purchase a new pack of baseball cards, a comic book, or even a movie rental from Value Food. My hard-earned quarters had the power to change a bad week into the best one ever!
This month we received the sweetest letter from Seth, a young boy who shared that he was learning what it meant to be a “cheerful giver.” In his study of 2 Corinthians 9:7, he wanted “to give not reluctantly or under compulsion but to do so from his heart.” Accompanying his note was his hard earned four dollars.
When Leslie developed the mission of Olivia’s House, one of the first questions she was often asked was, “How will it be funded, and more importantly, sustained?” Her vision was to create a center built by the community, for the community. Many people were skeptical of Leslie’s idealistic business model, but others championed the cause. Twenty years later, Olivia’s House continues to serve our community by employing this same approach.
We are grateful for each and every donation that is made to Olivia’s House. Each donation represents a distinct faith in our cause and creates an even stronger environment of healing energy. We are so humbled to know that our community and the world has people like Seth who understand the importance of being a cheerful giver. His four dollars, combined with every other “four dollars,” ensures that the grieving children of our community will continue having their needs met for years to come.
Posted: 10/1/21 by Michelle Fox (Development Director)
To say that 2020 was “challenging” is an understatement, and 2021 hasn’t been so easy itself! As our staff continues to pivot, one thing that we have missed over the past year is the energy that our volunteers bring to the grief center. Until recently, Olivia’s House has been a little too quiet, so we decided it was time to slowly reintroduce volunteers back through our doors.
This past May, Michelle had the privilege of meeting Henry Eisenhart, a kind and hardworking gentleman seeking volunteer opportunities. As Henry’s job made the pivot toward remote working, he made the choice to move back home and was looking for meaningful ways to fill his spare time. Henry has since spent the summer with us as a volunteer, helping with anything and everything – from gardening, to cleaning, to helping us assemble items for our Virtual Gala! We are grateful for the extra pair of hands he has lent, thus, we felt it was appropriate to highlight Henry and the unique experience that brought him to our front door in May.
How did Henry discover Olivia’s House?
Henry actually visited Olivia’s House when he was in the fourth grade(!!!) with his teacher Mrs. Ernst. He was moved by the story of Olivia (our inspiration) and our mission stuck with him all these years. After being forced to move back home during the pandemic, Henry was going stir crazy. While cleaning out his childhood bedroom, he found a piece of clay art in the back of his closet and it remined him of Olivia’s House, so he decided to give us a call. The rest is history. . .
Why did he want to start volunteering?
Henry admitted that he started volunteering for selfish reason: he likes feeling valued and being productive, while also enjoying the feeling of contributing to his local community. (We don’t think that’s so selfish, Henry!)
What is Henry’s favorite part about volunteering at Olivia’s House?
Henry has been tasked with many jobs while volunteering with Olivia’s House, but one thing that he enjoys is seeing the tangible difference he is making. When asked this question, Henry was reminded of the time he power washed the memorial benches in our Healing Garden of Hope as we prepared for our Commemorative Brick Ceremony, creating clean, safe spaces for our families to sit as they placed their bricks. You can see Henry’s efforts in everything he does, and he doesn’t stop until it’s perfect!
The staff at Olivia’s House are excited to meet new, friendly faces who are interested in volunteering! If you would like to learn more, simply give Olivia’s House a call. We kindly ask for your patience as we are slowly wading ourselves back into the “volunteering” waters, but rest reassured, we are very excited to meet you!
Posted: 9/1/21 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
When I began my career 25 years ago, I received a gift for my office. It was a plaque that read, “Growing old is a privilege denied to many; live life to the fullest!” On July 26th of this year, I was one of the privileged ones, turning the ripe old age of 62! With that special birthday, I retired from the “day to day operations” at Olivia’s House. “What does that mean?” many have asked. It means I am free to enjoy life’s simplicity and beauty for the first time in a very long time. It means I can focus on my hobbies without feeling guilty. It also means that I am still here to answer “five alarm fires” in our community as the Bereavement Specialist and I will help with lifting the very heavy loads at Olivia’s House, when I am needed.
Since the towers fell in 2001, I have enjoyed the most rewarding career in my roles as Founder, Executive Director, and Bereavement Specialist. We responded to our community by caring for every bereavement-related need they brought through our door. It is now time for my younger, energetic, and well-trained mentees at Olivia’s House to follow in my footsteps. I am confident in their abilities and feel blessed that I can take this backseat role, providing the much needed rest I have longed for!
My son, K.C., has been by my side learning and leading for almost fifteen years. He is amazing, and without him I would have succumbed to the pressures of the very difficult work years ago! Julia Dunn, our now Clinical Director, is amazing in her role. She embodies everything a professional needs to meet the demands of this job! Michelle Fox, having been in our ranks for over ten years and now Development Director, is a special employee who supports not only our volunteers but our generous community of donors. Could we be any more blessed? Oh yes we could, with our Board of Directors! This group of people, near and dear to my heart, help make it possible for our hardworking staff to keep our centers open and running seamlessly!
A BIG thank you to everyone for making my transition a wonderful one and for believing in the mission I brought to our community 20 years ago! I love you all!
Paying it Forward!!!
Posted: 8/1/21 by Julia Dunn, M.Ed., LPC (Program Director)
The families we serve give life to our mission, and all the children who come through our doors bring their unique personalities and perspectives. Last year, at the height of COVID-19, we at Olivia’s House piloted our first-ever Virtual Hearts Can Heal program. Unsure of how the teenagers in this program would respond in the virtual realm, our team was blown away by the connections made within the four walls of our computer screens. A connection so strong, in fact, that a few months after Hearts can Heal had ended, we heard back from one of our program graduates, Gabriella, who wanted to give something back to the mission that had given so much to her. We were intrigued by her proposal and felt honored to assist her with it.
As a class assignment, Gabriella was charged with the task of using speech to persuade others to donate to a charity. Without hesitation, Gabriella knew Olivia’s House would be the mission she sought to support! After meeting over Zoom with Clinical Director Julia to discuss the work of Olivia’s House, Gabriella combined all the new information she had learned with her personal experience in our programs to deliver a passionate, heartfelt plea to her classmates. By using the many tools gained during her time in our program, Gabriella became a walking billboard for the concept that Hearts Can Heal at Olivia’s House.
We are forever grateful to our alumni who see the merit in our mission, for they are the ones who continue the cycle of support at Olivia’s House. I will end with a quote from Gabriella herself, as no one speaks for this mission better than the children we serve: “You and the rest of your team truly touch lives in ways you couldn't possibly imagine, and you deserve every cent coming your way. Thank you for all you've done for the Olivia's House family, the passing community, and for me personally. Never stop believing in the mission!”