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News and Updates

Fear of Commitment
 Posted: 12/1/17 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)

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!

The Workshop
  Posted: 11/1/17 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)
November 21 marks the fourth anniversary of the opening of Olivia’s House Hanover. I vividly remember the day we found our “Hanover home.”  I had closed the grief center for the night and was sitting in my car when the email listing came across my phone. After taking one glance at the description of the property, I turned the car off,  went back inside and made some calls.  I KNEW it was to be ours!


We took ownership of the building at 101 Baltimore Street, formerly the Bell Insurance building, in mid-June, and the first thing we did in our new Hanover home was hold a staff meeting.  As we gathered to strategize, our first activity was a photo scavenger hunt.  We compiled a list of questions, which each staff member would answer with a representative photo taken in or around the building.  My favorite question was "What is something the Hanover center offers that York doesn't?" The obvious response, for me, was a photo of the three-car garage.  I remember thinking, at the time, that it was a great space that we could ultimately develop in accordance with the needs of the grief center and the community.


I am delighted to finally announce that our plans to remodel the garage space are coming to fruition and that our Board of Directors has decided to move forward on this renovation in the coming months. We were thrilled to collaborate with CORE Design Group, Stewart & Tate, Bortner Bros., and Engles & Fahs to design “The Workshop.”


It was important to us to retain the garage-like industrial feel of this space, to signify the work that will happen there. The design calls for:

- a glass garage door opening into the Dane Stambaugh Serenity Garden, where our rock garden and candle lighting rituals will take place;

- a program space big enough for large in-service trainings; and

- the "pounding walls" for use during the coping skills sessions of the Hearts Can Heal program


We are already dreaming of many future possibilities for this space, including hosting a Holly Jolly Garden Party in Hanover. Stay tuned for more developments as we go forward to improve and advance our Hanover center!

The Bricks in our Path
 Posted: 10/1/17 by Michelle Fox (Administrative Director)
The Healing Garden of Hope at Olivia’s House is a peaceful space where our families may escape when they need a few moments of solitude. While visiting the garden, you will notice a brick pathway created with over 6,000 bricks. Many of the bricks are unique and special, because they are inscribed with messages to loved ones, both past and present. 

Every summer, Olivia’s House hosts a Commemorative Brick ceremony and invites everyone who has purchased a brick throughout the year.  Friends and families gather for the ritual where they will permanently place their brick in the Healing Garden of Hope. This ritual has been taking place since we opened our doors over fifteen years ago. This beloved ritual has taken place annually since 2002, the year Olivia's House opened its doors.

For fifteen years, we have been able to offer the commemorative bricks for $75.  However, the cost of inscribing the bricks has increased, so it has become necessary for us to charge more for them.  The minimum donation for a memorial brick will now be one hundred dollars.  This price increase not only will cover the additional costs of the bricks themselves, but also will help us continue to maintain the garden as a resplendent sanctuary for all of the families who will find comfort there.

If you are interested in purchasing a brick in honor or in memory of someone special to you, you can find the order form here, as well as a video showcasing the Commemorative Brick ceremony. We invite you to consider personalizing a brick for your family that can be enjoyed for many years to come!  Please feel free to contact Michelle at 717-699-1133 with any questions you many have.
Welcome Hazel
Posted: 9/1/17 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
Our offices were quiet, too quiet. Ever since our precious Samantha crossed over the Rainbow Bridge to greet many of our dear friends on the other side, we have been missing the sounds of a dog in the office.  K.C. was adamant that he was not ready to take on a new dog, but encouraged me to do so. My husband and I thoughtfully considered the pros and cons of getting a dog, and the pros won!
A few days later, we found Hazel online at a reputable breeder in Sideling Hill, PA, and we drove up to bring her home! It was love at first sight. She has eyes that capture your heart, a sweet disposition and a beautiful sense of calm! ("calm" is relative, of course - she is, after all, still a puppy!)
Hazel Louisa Delp has graced the offices and both of the grief centers. She has romped in the Healing Garden of Hope and in the Dane Stambaugh Serenity Garden. Many friends of Olivia's House, including some Rotarians who attended a garden reception, have met Hazel; the affection has been mutual.
We are certain that once Hazel completes her certification in Trauma Therapy, she will be a great asset to the staff and community as she lavishes warm hugs and friendship upon children and adults who are at their most vulnerable!
R.P.G. Therapy
 Posted: 8/1/17 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)

“But I HATE therapy!” This is something we hear from children over and over again. Why is that? When most children think of “therapy,” they picture “talk therapy” or “cognitive therapy.” While this modality of mental health treatment is appropriate for adults, a child’s brain is not as capable of using language toexpress his or her feelings.

A child’s expression comes out in creative forms, such as play, art, or music. This is why we always refer children to professional therapists in those realms (play therapy, art therapy, equine therapy, etc.). When you play into a child’s strengths, you often find that the healing is stronger!

The program team at Olivia’s House is always searching for new modalities of therapy that can help children with complicated bereavement. That very thing came our way through Dave Kot and The Bodhana Group! Dave, a longtime friend of Olivia’s House, brought us their newest approach to children’s group therapy: a tabletop role-playing game used to therapeutically work through grief and loss.

Leslie and Julia got to see this therapeutic approach firsthand as they met weekly with a group of Hearts Can Heal alumni at Comic Store West on Tuesday evenings and sat in on the therapy game, No Thank You, Evil. Through the flexible and immersive game play, the boys of the group were able to explore their grief journey from a bird’s eye view, then gain and give perspective as they worked together to problem solve, cope, and find comfort in resolution. We can’t wait to continue working with The Bodhana Group in bringing role-playing games to the forefront of cutting-edge therapy!