Families who come to Jeff's Place after suffering the loss of a close family member find support, strength and hope. The staff and volunteers are a compassionate and dedicated group of individuals, and there is real healing that takes place in the support groups. Jeff's Place is an exceptional organization that fills such an important but under-recognized community need. It's a privilege to be associated with Jeff's Place.
I am a volunteer who sews Memory Bears for the bereaved children at Jeff's Place. While I do not meet the families in person, I do hear a bit about their stories (from the staff) so that I can attempt to capture the essence of their loved one in the stuffed bear I create from his/her clothing. It is not the norm in the United States in the 21st century for young families to lose a member. Finding peers who might understand one's ongoing grief can be challenging. Jeff's Place provides trained facilitators and peer groups for these children and their parents to share their grief and learn how to find a new normal. There is no timetable for grief. Jeff's Place helps bereaved families find ways to cope by surrounding them with others who are also learning to cope and helping them to provide understanding support for each other along the way.
I am a Board Member and Volunteer. Although I do not see the kids in their groups I watch them interact and tell their stories to the group. I am amazed at how they progress over the year and how poised they are when they tell their story. I have also seen the impact it has had on other volunteers who have had significant losses in their lives. The interaction with the participants help not only the kids in attendance but also helps all the volunteers that participate. It is a truly amazing organization that is serving such an important role in peoples lives. Unless you experience it or know someone who has you don't understand it and that is what Jeff's Place is all about. AMAZING !!
I never fully imagined the Impact Jeff's Place would have on me as a facilitator. It's not that I have any answers and I've come to realize, there are none when it comes to grieving. For each child, each parent, it appears to be a singular journey. Our role at Jeff's Place is to enable and encourage the paths to meet. For the kids, they feel 'normal' here. For the adults, they talk a familiar language. At Jeff's Place, following dinner, each child and then adult who would like, lights a candle..."I light this candle in memory of my mother, Ann', '...my son, John'. We use names, we provide a safe place to talk about how people died, how it feels, what you do when you feel sad, what makes you laugh when you remember. Jeff's Place is alive and caring and for the past 3 years I've had the privilege of observing transitions that I believe are a direct result. The courage of these families truly touches my heart. Parents and kids re-connect with one another in profound ways, having learned that they don't need to carry their pain alone. Strength is given through individual and shared experiences. Our leaders, Jenny Schreiber and Melissa Kennedy Panto arm us with gentle ways to start conversations. I am awed by their always seeming to know what to say and their encouragement to us as facilitators to trust our instincts. Protective walls slowly crumble here so that healing can begin. Who Jenny is and what she has done in creating Jeff's Place is nothing short of extraordinary.
This organization helps so many kids (and adults) feel like they are not alone. We understand them. We "get it " I hear from the clients all the time when we ask what Jeff's Place means to you. Working with this organization is a gift and a privilege.
I have been fortunate enough to volunteer at Jeff's Place for the last few years. Jeff's Place helps families and children find their "new normal" after a loss. After the sudden loss of my mother by suicide at the age of 11, I wish I had a place like Jeff's Place back then. Jeff's Place is filled with compassionate people who dedicate their time and their lives to simply helping others transition through a loss. I am so pleased to see how families find a place where people understand what they are going through and help them know there are others like them in the world. I have been blessed by seeing how many people begin the healing process and find a new strength in their lives. Jennifer Kaplan Schreiber and Melissa Panto Kennedy are two of the finest people I have ever met and they are the real deal. I would tell any family who has experienced a loss about Jef's Place.
I have been a volunteer cofacilitator for over a year. Each time I participate I am blown away by the dedication, professionalism and generosity of the group. It has been an honor to be a part of this organization. Helping people becomes a personal journey for each of us.
The grief work changes the lives of all of us, volunteers and families who come for comfort. It is powerful and necessary. Impressve and delicate. As I leave each time I do so in awe of the folks in my group, the children they support and my colleagues who care so much.
As a volunteer the most amazing thing that happens is to witness the amount of compassion the children have for each other. Sometimes they can say what I am thinking but don't dare to ask or say. The kids learn so much from each other. The best part is one child will tell their story, you could hear a pin drop, because it can be so intense, then another child all of a sudden will burp and everyone cracks up!! The kids are rolling on the floor laughing and making burping sounds. Next thing you know it's someone else's turn, they begin to tell the story and the laughter breaks out again. Eventually all are heard, in a very safe and clearly comfortable, and comforting atmoshpere. All have a voice at Jeff's Place, even the youngest children are heard.
I am honored to be a volunteer facilitator and board member for Jeff's Place, a place where children and their families can come and grieve with others who have had significant loss. I am amazed at how eloquently spoken each child is when they speak of their loss. We hear time after time how it is difficult to speak about their loss with others who may not understand. At Jeff's Place, we know that with each phase of their life, season, holiday, anniversary that passes, different parts of the grief process appear and that talking and sharing with other families who understand will assist in the healing process. With time, sharing and healing, surely "hope grows" at Jeff's Place.
I am both a past volunteer and current Board Member. I lost my brother when I was 16 years old and he was almost 18 at the time. Jeff's Place offers a way for kids (and families) to address the challenges and emotions that I felt and I know these kids are going through. For the kids to know that everyone at Jeff's Place "get's it" is an amazing thing that helps the kids (and families) cope with their unique tragic loss.
I am a volunteer faciIitator at Jeff's Place, now going on my 3rd year. I lost my mother to suicide at the age of 11. Unfortunately, we did not have access to a center like Jeff's Place. We tried our best as a family to cope with the pain of a major loss and the stigma/shame of suicide. Our lives, to say the least, were never going to be normal again. Because we did not have a Jeff's Place back then, I watched our family struggle. I was very fortunate to meet Jennifer Kaplan Schreiber and Melissa Kennedy Panto who through their vision help families transition through the grieving process and find their "new normal". I am amazed to see how families, with the support of Jeff's place, are able to unpack their bags of grief and express themselves in healthy healing ways. Jeff's Place provides a unique environment for all family types to have someone simply come beside them and simply show them the way toward and through the bereavement process. Each and every person, whether it is a family grieving or a volunteer helping, receives tremendous benefits from each other, from someone who "just gets it". I whole heartedly endorse Jeff's Place and I am blessed to be able to serve families who attend.
What an amazing experience - to be part of people's healing. It is such a gift. I have never seen so much love and support in one place. The kids feel like someone finally "gets it" and they know they can trust us. There is nothing better then watching a family grow and (re)connect and heal. I love my nights at Jeff's Place. Hope (definitely) grows here.
Thirty years ago when my son died there were no organizations like Jeff's Place. I tried to get my other children into therapy, but they refused to go. They said the therapist did not know how they felt, nobody did. They each had close friends they could talk to, but for only so long. Their friends could only listen for a short time, it was time to get on with life. My friends and my therapist also thought they were helping by telling me I had to let go and begin to live again. Not so easy!!
Jeff's place offers these families a place to be with people who understand their feelings. Watching the children and the adults bond and support each other is so beautiful, I often wonder how much easier my families recovery would have been if something like Jeff's Place was available to us.
I had the privilege of being a part of Jeff's Place from 2010-2012. I think something that I find particularly helpful about Jeff's Place is the fact that it offers services for the entire family. It is clear that participating in the program not only helps individuals on their journey through loss, but also provides the opportunity to bring families closer together, giving them permission to talk about their experiences with one another based on their shared participation in the program. It was an extremely positive experience for me, personally, to be a part of Jeff's Place, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the families that participate, as well as for the volunteers and clinicians who run the program.
My personal experience at Jeff's Place is in the role of Facilitator in the group of children grades one through three. I am in my second year of volunteering.
My interaction with the young children is assisting with art projects allowing our group to discuss emotions and feelings. The children express how they feel through various art mediums such as painting, clay, decorating memory boxes as the children work through their personal grief process. Stories are read about how children are feeling during a significant death loss in their family and discussions follow the stories to share experiences and emotions. Children learn how different families react and cope with the process of grief. The experience is not the same for all families.
Children feel safe at Jeff's Place as they know anything that is said during group sessions is confidential. The children learn to trust each other by listening and respecting each child as they begin to share a feeling or experience. The children interact with each other in group during carefully selected activities and projects by the professional Program Coordinator at Jeff's Place who is trained in Art Therapy. Group activities are created or chosen by the Program Coordinator to be age appropriate and to be entertaining as well as engaging all participants to share and promote discussion within the group.
My volunteer experience at Jeff's Place has been extremely rewarding for me as I help the young children learn to express their feelings and learn coping strategies for issues they struggle with in their everyday life. These support group sessions were not available to me when I was a young child who experienced the significant death loss of my father. Now I understand how important it is to have a children's bereavement program available for all and why the services provided at Jeff's Place is so important for the emotional needs of young children and their families.