Self Care Exploration From Your Couch
Posted: 4/1/21 by Julia Dunn, M.Ed., LPC (Program Director)
The chances are good that you’ve seen the words “Self-Care” come across your radar recently. In this unprecedented year, “self-care” has become almost a mantra, a shield against the change and uncertainty that has been swirling around us. At Olivia’s House, we often relate self-care to the analogy of oxygen masks on an airplane: you must have your own oxygen mask on before you can assist anyone else. Self-care follows the same principle: in order to cope with life’s changes, be it a pandemic or the death of someone you love, you must begin by giving care to yourself, and only then can it radiate to those around you. Over the past year, Program Director Julia Dunn sought to do just that— find the self-care that was true to, well, herself.
Pre-pandemic, the website Airbnb was a favorite of Julia’s; she often dreamt of vacation spots and relaxing weekend trips. Traveling can be an excellent form of self-care, but when COVID-19 insisted that we stash our travel plans away, Julia knew that it was time to get creative with coping. Luckily, she didn’t have to look far, as she discovered that Airbnb offered online experiences hosted by people from all over the world! Staying inside suddenly didn’t feel so isolating, as Julia toured a Cat Café in Sacramento, practiced Buddhist meditation with a monk in Japan, created a collage of her cat with an artist in Barcelona, learned sign language from an instructor in Germany, and so much more. Julia even took a dance class with an actor from one of her favorite movies! Being face to face on Zoom made each experience feel even more special, as if they were actually taking place in person!
Julia practiced self-care by exploring new worlds, new cultures, new people, and new experiences. Along the way she found an extra perk that came with online events. By scheduling experiences in advance, Julia found she always had something to look forward to. Quite often, especially during the pandemic, we can find ourselves feeling stuck. Spontaneous self-care is wonderful, but never underestimate the power of putting something fun on the calendar. Many times, the anticipation of an event can be just as exciting as the event itself!
We knew our Program Director couldn’t be having this much fun without us! That’s why we are so happy that Julia is bringing our program families into the world of Airbnb Online Experiences. This spring, we will be hosting an Olivia’s House virtual WINGS event with our program alumni to invite them into the world of self-care and coping. But where will we be traveling to from the comfort of our couches? Stay tuned!
El Primer Funeral de Logan
Posted: 3/1/21 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)
Throughout the pandemic, I have held safety precautions as my highest priority, so it was with hesitancy last summer that I accepted a lunch invitation from our beloved friend and InspirAngel, Vicki Friedman. She assured me that we would stay safe while dining outdoors and wearing masks, but she blew my own safety precautions out of the water when she pulled out her UV sanitizing lightwand!!!
Spending any amount of time with Vicki has always been a gift. Whether dueling over a scrabble board, strategizing a fundraiser, or simply catching up and laughing, our time together is always well spent. But for this lunch, I had an ulterior motive—we were celebrating! Olivia’s House’s first children’s book, Logan’s First Funeral (which was illustrated by Vicki), had officially been on the virtual book shelves for three months, and it was time to plan our next step. It was at this lunch that Vicki, Mom, and myself agreed to move forward on producing a Spanish translation!
Fast forward six months and countless emails, and we are proud to share that “El Primer Funeral de Logan” is officially available on Amazon.com. On this journey, we have had the most amazing collaborators, so we give our deepest gratitude to Crystal Strous, Hilda Bednarchik, and Brittany Haines for helping us to translate our original text. As you can imagine, this was not a simple task, as so many of the funeral industry terms do not have a direct translation, but our crew worked tirelessly to create an equally awesome resource! We also want to thank Demi Stevens at The Year of The Book for once again helping us to publish this important resource. We are beyond thrilled to provide this resource to the families we serve whose native language is Spanish!
Are You a Champion?!
Posted: 2/1/21 by Michelle Fox (Administrative Director)
If you’ve been present in the York community in the past few years, you may be familiar with “Give Local York,” a charitable event that takes place on the first Friday in May to support non-profits in our community. For the past several years, Olivia’s House has benefited from the generosity of this event, and we are so grateful that our community supports the hard work that we do. “Give Local York” is entering into its fourth year, and we need YOU to be a Champion in raising funds for Olivia’s House! Through navigating a global pandemic, hosting our programs online, holding our first-ever virtual Gala, and pivoting our annual holiday party to a “Holly Jolly on Wheels” celebration for our families. . . Olivia’s House has continued to serve our local community, and now, more than ever, we need your support!!!
You may be wondering, “How do I get involved with Give Local York and support my favorite organization?” Well, it’s easy. . .you become a Champion! A Champion is someone who raises money on behalf of our organization and encourages other to do the same! The Give Local York platform has made it easier than ever for you to become a Champion. Simply create a profile on the Give Local York homepage, where you can provide your very own testimonial describing why you are choosing to support Olivia’s House. You can also upload photos and videos to your Champion page, including your favorite photos of your special loved one to celebrate in their memory with your friends and family. The best part is, your personal Champion page will have a link that you can share on social media and with everyone you know, making it easy for them to donate directly to your Olivia’s House Champion fundraiser in memory of your loved one.
If any of this sounds confusing, not to worry! Olivia’s House is here to help you every step of the way. We will be sharing videos, tidbits and FAQ’s on our Facebook page leading up to the event with ideas for our Champions! The key is to have fun and be creative to get your family and friends to donate! Create a challenge that they can pass around (remember the ice bucket challenge?!), hold a pie eating contest, host a bake sale, or send letters to everyone in your address book asking to support Olivia’s House in memory of your loved one. The ideas are endless on how you can raise funds as a Champion, and the highest earner in donations will be honored by our mission! The question is, will you be the next Champion permanently placed on our Olivia’s House Grand Champion cup?
Our Fifth Staff Member
Posted: 1/1/21 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
“It is silent here within my walls. There are no children running around, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and laughter. No painting, coloring, or activities are happening within my rooms. The family room chairs are not formed in their usual circle; they have been folded and stored along the walls for months. My garden is ready for winter, though I relish the memories of hosting families over the summer as they furnished my pathways with engraved bricks. I am peaceful, but I am lonely.”
Our grief center, often referred to as the “fifth staff member of Olivia’s House,” has been missing the buzzing energy of healing within its walls, so we gave her a voice to share her feelings! Our staff is counting down the days until the world comes back and the children are safe to call Olivia’s House home again. The families we serve are the heartbeat of our centers!
When Leslie envisioned a children’s grief and loss center, her mind’s eye was very clear: a large Victorian house complete with a porch and rooms for the children to share their thoughts and feelings through art, music and games. We were to create a safe place where families could talk about their loved ones and the pain that they were feeling since losing them. Olivia’s House York and Olivia’s House Hanover have both met the vision Leslie held, and they have each taken on personalities of their own!
It has been difficult to be away from the centers during the pandemic. It feels as though the houses are grieving! Our staff is still in charge of maintaining the needs of our centers, including cutting the grass, raking the leaves, dusting, sweeping, and watering the plants. We’ve even utilized this time to complete our plans of building a “snack station” on the third floor for the children! When the world comes back, we will be more ready than ever. Until then, the staff will use our skills to support both of our houses through their loss, until the children return to cheer them up!
Olivia's House VIRTUAL Holiday Programs
Posted: 12/1/20 by Julia Dunn, M.Ed., LPC (Program Director)
When the pandemic first hit the news in early spring of 2020, the world optimistically hoped that the chaos would calm within weeks; none of us dreamed that the winter holidays would be affected by COVID-19. As the months of spring and summer went by, the staff at Olivia’s House did what we do best – planned ahead! We were busy little elves working tirelessly to make our holiday celebrations JUST as special as they had always been, even though we couldn’t meet in person. In 2020, our two favorite holiday WINGS events – holiday shopping and the annual Holly Jolly event – went virtual!
Holiday shopping is a much looked-forward-to event! During a typical holiday season, we gather our alumni at the Target in Hanover to shop for a loved one who might be missing a gift this year due to a death in the family. For example, if a child’s father has died, they may not have anyone to take them shopping for a gift for Mom. Though we could not gather in a group of 100, we still provided all of our alumni children the opportunity to purchase gifts, . . . only this time it was on Zoom! Over the course of two days, Program Director Julia Dunn met individually on Zoom with nearly 30 children as they shopped together on Amazon Prime. The cost of every gift that a child picked out was covered by Olivia’s House, then each gift was wrapped by our volunteers to hand out to the children. We are so grateful to the Christmas for Kids organization for funding this WINGS event, which always brings smiles to many faces during the holiday season!
Our OTHER favorite Holiday WINGS event is our annual Holly Jolly party! In years past we have graduated from hosting this event in our beautiful garden at Olivia’s House to moving into the ice-skating rink and party room at Heritage Hills Resort. Once again, COVID threw a wrench into our usual plans, but that just gave us the opportunity to get creative! In that vein, we were thrilled to introduce our very first Holly Jolly on Wheels WINGS event! Thanks to the generous support from Yazoo Mills, Olivia’s House covered the cost for almost 50 families to travel to Hershey, PA, to view the drive-thru Sweet Lights display! And for an extra surprise, we provided each family with a Goodie Bag filled with treats to make their night even better: a gift card to Dunkin’ to get some creamy hot chocolate, crafts on-the-go to keep everyone occupied during the drive, a collection of sweet treats, some Olivia’s House swag, and a scavenger hunt, to keep everyone’s eyes peeled for that special holiday magic!
We feel blessed to have partners in the community who allow us to create these special events for our families, and we are even more grateful for our alumni families who have made the long-term commitment to healing!