It Isn't Easy Being Greeter
Posted: 4/1/18 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. When our families walk into Olivia’s House on the first night of our Hearts Can Heal or Little Ones program, it is crucial that they feel a sense of comfort and receive a warm welcome. The person who ensures that this happens is the Greeter!
The Greeter is an important component of the evening, but that person’s responsibilities do not end with helping our families feel welcome. The Greeter is also our Program Director’s “right hand,” both in organizing the meeting space and watching the door so that the Program Team can be pre-briefing with the Companions as well as helping during our end-of-night ritual. Without our Greeter, the Program Director would need to exit the group to attend to the door every time a family arrives. Without the Greeter, very little would get done!
How does a volunteer get selected to be a Greeter? The Program Team considers the various spots in which volunteers are needed. In the months before programming begins, we match volunteers to the families they will be working with. We factor in personality, gender, age, and the families’ situations, and take great pains to determine the best fit for them. If a group doesn’t have a compatible fit, we know we won’t be reaching our full potential in helping these families heal after their loss. Perhaps one group would benefit from a grandmotherly type; another group may need someone who is not afraid to get a little messy. We hand select not only the Companion who will work directly with the children but also the individual who will make them feel most welcome – the Greeter!
Thank you to all our Greeters, who play an essential role in helping our families heal. We couldn’t do it without you!
Our Presidential Leadership
Posted: 3/1/18 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)
Olivia’s House has always been blessed with great leadership. For the past two years, our Board President, Al Kuhner, boldly took us down unfamiliar roads and improved the way we do business. A successful businessman himself, Al was the perfect mentor for Olivia’s House. He led the way when we most needed guidance. His mentoring led us to take on the Hanover garage renovation which, we are excited to say, will begin soon. In addition to the wisdom and creativity that were integral to Al's leadership, his generosity and elegance enriched relationships and enhanced the way that business was conducted. Al's tenure draws to a close this month, and we will miss him greatly.
On the heels of an accomplished Board President, another promising leader follows! Matt Mayo has been with Olivia’s House since its inception. He has “grown up” in this mission! He and I both served on the fundraising committee when our mission first began in 2001. We carried cans around Market Street and accosted parishioners for donations in front of St. Rose of Lima Church as it was letting out on a Sunday morning! We were the youngest board members and, as such, hung together. Matt is one of very few people who have attended all fifteen Olivian Galas. His entire family supports the mission in a variety of ways. He and his wife, Erica, are Mortgage Angels in memory of their fathers. We are humbled and filled with gratitude that Matt has agreed to be our new Board President. Matt, like Al, brings a certain sophistication to the board. His decade of experience as a Regional Director and Administrator for Manor Care Nursing facilities and now as the Vice President of Operations at Landis Homes has equiped him with the financial expertise and superior judgment that will be important assets in his role as Board President. At Olivia's House, we have great affection and respect for Matt and look forward to his leadership of this mission for the next two years. Welcome aboard, Matt!
Volunteer Spotlight: Sophie
Posted: 2/1/18 by Michelle Fox (Administrative Director)
Our mission could not thrive without our wonderful volunteers! They truly are unpaid staff members that help us to function effectively and successfully. Whether they are helping at our front desk, stuffing envelopes, gardening, cleaning, serving on a committee or Companioning in one of our programs, we are grateful for their commitment and the array of contributions they make to advance our mission.
A pivotal role that I have at Olivia's House is interviewing all of the potential volunteers who apply to work with us. In these interviews, I always try to discern their interests and talents in order to match them with just the right volunteer position.
I have been fortunate to meet many interesting and enthusiastic people who are eager to share their skills and talents with Olivia's House. One special volunteer that I've gotten to know better over the past year is Sophie. She showed up one day at Olivia's House without making an appointment. We had a brief conversation, and then I didn't hear anything more from Sophie until weeks later, when I received a phone call from her expressing interest in volunteering with us. I learned that Sophie is affiliated with an organization called Focus. She is on the autism spectrum and is learning to live outside of her comfort zone, pushing her limits. Every Friday morning you can find Sophie at Olivia’s House, helping to clean the grief center. Our staff wishes we had a volunteer like Sophie at our York center too. She does a great job and we've grown to look forward to spending our Fridays with her.
Sophie is an ideal volunteer: she doesn't say no and is always willing to try to accomplish the task at hand, no matter what it is. We thank you, Sophie, for your hard work that supports our staff and our mission!
The Guardian Angels
Posted: 1/1/18 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
What is a Guardian Angel? In history, a guardian angel was an angel that was assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group, kingdom, or country. Everyone at Olivia’s House knows that our guardian angels serve to insure our future. This year Olivia’s House was blessed with an unexpected, sizable gift from a guardian angel. Joyce Wilt planned to bless Olivia’s House in her estate. Unbeknownst to us, we were in her thoughts as she prepared to give her savings away at the end of her life. Somehow our mission touched her heart. Joyce made sure that we could take care of children for a long time. She was a true guardian angel.
As the founder of Olivia’s House, I was touched by this selfless act. To think that someone else held the grieving children of our community as near and dear to them as I did was amazing! To know that she took legal steps to ensure their care was overwhelming. With Joyce’s gift, our mission was able to renovate some worn out areas of our grief centers. Using some of those funds to support our staff has translated into caring for the children and sustaining our programs. Joyce's final act of generosity ensured that we could move forward with projects that had been on hold until we could raise the money to accomplish them.
When we first opened our York center in 2002, it was decided that anyone who pledged a gift to Olivia's House in their estate would be known as a Guardian Angel. There was no requisite dollar amount, simply a promise of a gift to provide for the security of this beloved mission. The commitment could be verbal or written, with or without the assistance of legal counsel. Olivia's House records the promise with a specially engraved brick in our garden that says, simply, "Guardian Angel," with the family name included. When you visit our Healing Garden of Hope at the York center, you will see many of these engraved bricks lining the path. Each one denotes the promise of a family in our community whose legacy ensures future support for grieving families.
Recently, my husband and I met with our attorney to plan our end of life care and estate. When we put details in writing for our children, we planned a gift for Olivia’s House. It was important for us as the founding family to leave a legacy to work to leave a legacy to sustain the future mission. We are proud to be Guardian Angels and more proud to have a brick in the garden that underscores our commitment to this fund.
Check out the Guardian Angel Legacy Fund on our website for more information on how to become a member. Over the past decade, we have amassed many Guardian Angels, and we are grateful and overjoyed for the assurance of security that their promises bring for the future of Olivia's House!
Three times a year Olivia’s House hosts a group of bereaved families for our Hearts Can Heal program. Long before Olivia’s House was even a house, Leslie saw that the needs of grieving children were not being met – that is, until they came together once a week for eight weeks to learn, connect, and grow through their grief. Twenty years later, we continue to support the community in this way (among many other ways!), and while our quality of care has improved year by year, there is one prominent decline: the willingness of the families to commit to attending all eight weeks. If our study in psychology has taught us anything, it is that in order to get people to do something, they need a reason, or a “because.” What is our “because”? One of the reasons we ask families to attend all eight weeks of Hearts Can Heal concerns the cost. Although we don’t charge families for the services that are provided, it costs almost a thousand dollars of the community’s money to put one person through the program. Missing weeks is a poor use of that donation. Plus, the slot could have been filled by another family able to attend all sessions of Hearts Can Heal.
More importantly, we require our families to attend every week because it is a program that builds on itself. Missing a week of Hearts Can Heal is like missing an entire year of school for a child. You wouldn’t go right from third grade to fifth grade if you missed the education you needed in fourth grade! We want to create a safe environment for each and every person who walks through our door. When someone shares their story of loss, it is not conducive to healing to repeat it every week to accommodate the participants who missed it the week before. Instead of learning and healing, you are caught in the cycle of repetition. You may feel at the moment that your child’s parade or sporting event takes precedence over an evening at Olivia’s House. But our expertise over 20 years and the experience of thousands of participants have shown that full participation in the program is crucial to healing. We don’t want to give your family anything but the best . . . because you are worth it!