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News and Updates

The Long and Rewarding Road to Licensure
 Posted: 4/1/19 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)

    “I want to be a therapist!” This is something that we in the helping profession hear quite often. Though always grateful to bring fresh faces out of academia and into the therapeutic work force, we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t shine light on the real experience of pursuing (and achieving) the goal of becoming a licensed therapist.

    Program Director Julia Dunn knew from elementary school that she wanted to be a therapist. But it wasn’t until she was in graduate school that an advisor sat her down (or should we say, Julia sat them down) and listed the steps she would need to take. In order to bill insurance for therapy in the state of Pennsylvania, one must be licensed, which is a process that continues long after graduate school ends. Julia quickly learned that in order to become a therapist, a job that is often practiced individually, she would need to become autonomous in her pursuit.  The first hurdle presented itself when Julia discovered, through navigating the Department of State’s ever-changing website, that her graduate school curriculum did not contain all the classes required for licensure. To have trusted in the system and assumed that her course load met the state’s standards would have left Julia unable to apply for her license. She would have had to go back to graduate school to complete the additional courses (which any full-time employee knows is not an easy feat!). Once again, diligence and curiosity served her well, and she was able to incorporate the extra coursework and graduate with her cohort in 2015.

     Once Julia had completed her Master’s degree, the journey toward licensure began. Textbooks were put on the shelf, and a study book for (yet another) standardized test took their place. The NCE, or National Counselor’s Exam, evaluates your knowledge on everything you’ve learned in psychology since undergraduate school. You’d better hope you still have your notes from Psych 101!  Therapy is an ever-swirling mix of theory and practice, and the NCE must ascertain that you have a secure foundation of knowledge before you begin acquiring licensure qualifications. 

With a passing exam score, Julia moved on to the ultimate stage of preparation: accruing 3,600 hours of supervised clinical experience working with clients. Those hours can take anywhere from two to five years to accumulate and involve expensive, weekly meetings with a licensed supervisor. Julia began her undergraduate degree in Psychology in August of 2008 and is proud to say that as of April 1, 2019, she is officially a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania.

The journey toward licensure is long, and the process can get confusing at times. Diligence, perseverance, and support within the field are the keys to earning the long-awaited title. We are thrilled to learn of others considering the career path of Licensed Professional Counselor. For the next generation of therapists-to-be, the most important question is, “Are you ready for the journey?”

You're Invited : 5. 3. 19
  Posted: 3/1/19 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director) 
While shoveling the snow at our York Grief Center this past month, I couldn’t help but think about the wonderful event we had planned for National Children’s Grief Awareness Day in November of 2018. We unfortunately had to cancel it because of the "beautiful white stuff!” It goes without saying that weather is very unpredictable; however, we think we may be safe in rescheduling the event for Friday, May 3rd! 


This event is a very special one for many reasons, and we hope you will consider attending. The Rice Family Foundation gifted Olivia’s House $50,000 to renovate our three-car 3 car garage, and while it took over two years to complete (and now three years to officially celebrate), we are ecstatic to cut the proverbial ribbon along with the Hanover Chamber staff and the Rice Family. We are excited to properly thank the Rice Family Foundation and the MANY people who helped to make our Workshop the beautiful success that it is. We have chosen Friday, May 3rd, 2019 from 5 to 8 p.m. as the date and time you need to circle on your calendar!


Why May 3rd, you ask?  Because that day has been designated as Give Local York Day, and we will be participating, as we did las year, but this year we will be in Hanover! The ribbon cutting ceremony, along with a big ‘ol block party style open house, will take place in our parking lot! We have ordered a cotton candy machine, booked a DJ, organized games, and made plans to grill hotdogs and of course serve Utz chips!!! Please check out our event page on Facebook and come out to celebrate our beautiful Workshop renovation and enjoy some party food and games while visiting with our Olivia’s House family!


It isn’t often that we can honor generous community members while celebrating our role in a countywide day of giving. Please join us; you won’t want to miss it!

A Most Precious Gift
 Posted: 2/1/19 by Michelle Fox (Administrative Director)

As we continue to adjust to the New Year, it is always an exciting time to meet new and eager faces of volunteers who are looking to jump-start their resolutions by giving back to the community. One particular person, who now happens to wear many different volunteer hats at Olivia’s House, entered through our doors seven years ago on a cold, January day. His name is Gary Merica. Gary followed his passion to work with grieving children and elected to attend our 12-hour Companion training which afforded him the opportunity to volunteer in our Hearts Can Heal program. From there, he evolved into a seasoned Companion, Board Member, and our “go-to” volunteer who will do anything he can (and we mean anything!) to support Olivia’s House.


A few years ago, Gary kept us abreast of his “Countdown to Retirement.” Once Gary was able to retire, he began to peruse his passion for writing. He started a part-time gig of writing a column for a local newspaper, and because of his growing relationship with Olivia’s House, he dedicated one of his articles to us. Like many volunteers, it is hard to put into words their experience at Olivia’s House, so here is an inside view from one of our longstanding outstanding volunteers, Gary Merica…


A few days ago I was standing in line at the grocery store, becoming more and more impatient at how long it was taking to check out. Another customer behind me complained that it was taking so long because there were too few lanes open, and I all too easily joined in the collective complaint about our terrible fate. It was only on the drive home that I realized how ridiculous and, frankly, callous my moment of woe and self-pity truly was. I had just come from a store that is mere miles from my home, a store with shelves stocked to the brim with food, finding everything I wanted, having my groceries scanned and bagged for me – and yet I was so shallow that I felt inconvenienced by a short wait in line. 


This realization reminded me that I was lucky; there are some parents that can’t afford to even feed their children, and some children that no longer have a mother or father to care for them.


This brings me to the heart of this column. I have briefly mentioned in prior columns my affiliation as a volunteer with Olivia’s House. Olivia’s House is a grief and loss center for children, with two locations in York County – one in York and one in Hanover. Their mission is to support grieving children and families, and to facilitate healing through grief and loss education. Leslie Delp, a therapist who specializes in bereavement work, is the Founder of Olivia’s House. She started the Hearts Can Heal program in 1996, running the groups out of church basements. Currently, Olivia’s House has two physical locations: the York center opened in 2003, and the Hanover location in 2013.


Olivia’s House is indeed a most precious gift. First and foremost, it is a gift to the children and families who are grieving after the loss of a loved one. The programs that are designed by the professional staff and facilitated by a cadre of trained volunteers have a positive impact on the lives of these families and begin the lifelong process of healing. I have seen this healing first hand, and am in awe of the power that this well-designed program has when delivered through the hands of a group of caring people.


Secondly, Olivia’s House is a gift to the entire York Community. Life throws many challenges our way; few more difficult than a child’s loss of a parent or other loved one. Being in the position to support grieving children and bereaved families not only contributes to their healing, but also serves a greater good for us all. In the troubled times in which we live, kindness, love, and caring for one another contribute to a greater sense of community and help us to create a better world.


Olivia’s House is a gift that is received well beyond the borders of York County. Recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind, the professionals at Olivia’s House are regularly consulted by other communities throughout the nation who have suffered traumatic loss – including the Nickel Mines and Sandy Hook tragedies. The staff also provides guidance to others on how to establish a similar program in their community. I purposely chose to use the word “gift” throughout this column, because that’s exactly what the services provided by Olivia’s House are. The Hearts Can Heal program, as well as all of the services provided by Olivia’s House, is done so at no cost to families.


I’m certain that I speak for all the many volunteers at Olivia’s House; it is a most precious gift for us. We feel honored and privileged to support this wonderful mission, and we find that, by contributing to the healing of grieving children and to the betterment of our community, we get more in return than we give.


I’ll end by asking a favor. All of the great work accomplished by Olivia’s House is conducted by a small staff and a group of volunteers, and is funded solely through the generosity of community contributors and via fund-raising. During the season of gift giving, and throughout the year, would you kindly consider adding this organization to your gift list? There are so many ways to give – financial, time, and many others.

As I like to do, I’ll end with a quote from someone brighter and more articulate than me (a rather low bar). This from Forest Witcraft: A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the
My, How Time Flies
 Posted: 1/1/19 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)  
Recently, we had the privilege of welcoming two alumni family members to be a part of the fall Hearts Can Heal program.  Kim Patterson Tome was a Companion in our elementary group, after having been a program participant in one of the very first groups we offered in the house in 2003.  Her son, Luke, who was seven years old when his father died, came to speak to our parents group as an alumnus this fall.  His message was clear,  "I was your child, and I am doing well; not to worry, your children will be fine."

Luke recently graduated from Penn State Main Campus after a semester of study in China.  He majored in PreMed with hopes of becoming a research scientist.  His dreams came true last month when he was hired by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as a researcher.  He will be growing tissue in the CHOP Labs that may lead to the eradication of certain types of children’s brain tumors!

We are so proud of Luke and Kim for reaching their hands back to help the newly bereaved families, just like they were over fifteen years ago!
My Weekend with the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children
 Posted: 12/1/18 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)

Olivia’s House is a member of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), an organization that houses all of the resources and specialists to support families through the lengthy and often traumatic journey of child abduction or exploitation. Years ago, NCMEC connected to Olivia’s House so that we could act as a safety net and support system for families after a missing child is presumed or declared deceased. Many times we are called in to support a family after a loss, or to prepare them for the imminent death of a loved one. But what if that loss is ongoing; a cycle of optimism and disappointment when you aren’t sure if your child is coming home? Although we focus heavily on death at Olivia’s House, there are a myriad of losses that can affect a child’s life. This training gave us the chance to learn about these losses so that we can better understand how to support a family if they would need the support of Olivia’s House after abduction.


It was a crisp October morning when I drove into Old Town Alexandria to attend a conference being held by the Family Advocacy and Outreach Network division of NCMEC. I had seen the movie “Taken,” so I knew about child abduction, right? Wrong. It is simpler to think of a child being abducted by a “bad guy” who needs to be outsmarted before the inevitable “happy ending” reunion. But the reality is that nearly three-quarters of abducted children are taken by a biological parent. We heard first-hand stories of individuals who had lived through this as children and who had found it impossible to assess which of their parents was in the right, and whether there even was a “bad guy.” The Amber Alerts flashing across the highway tell us one story, but that very child may feel that they are with the ideal parent living a life of luxury, and not realize the danger they’re in.


We also heard stories of children (and subsequently their families) who were victims of online sexual exploitation. Once again, it’s easy to draw to mind a vision of a young girl, abandoned, and knowing nothing to turn to but the life of a sex worker. But this is not the most common experience of sexploitation. Online predators can spend months grooming a teen to become sexually complicit in pictures and videos. The exploiter can assume various roles ranging from trusted peer or mentor to threatening techie claiming to have access to private files. These losses are lengthy and complex.


During the weekend-long training, a roomful of therapists and mental health workers were able to come together to be educated on these issues. Olivia’s House is able to provide education to the community because we continue to educate ourselves. We are so grateful to NCMEC for this opportunity, and even more grateful for the opportunity to use this knowledge to expand our support of children experiencing loss in the community.