Posted: 9/1/21 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
When I began my career 25 years ago, I received a gift for my office. It was a plaque that read, “Growing old is a privilege denied to many; live life to the fullest!” On July 26th of this year, I was one of the privileged ones, turning the ripe old age of 62! With that special birthday, I retired from the “day to day operations” at Olivia’s House. “What does that mean?” many have asked. It means I am free to enjoy life’s simplicity and beauty for the first time in a very long time. It means I can focus on my hobbies without feeling guilty. It also means that I am still here to answer “five alarm fires” in our community as the Bereavement Specialist and I will help with lifting the very heavy loads at Olivia’s House, when I am needed.
Since the towers fell in 2001, I have enjoyed the most rewarding career in my roles as Founder, Executive Director, and Bereavement Specialist. We responded to our community by caring for every bereavement-related need they brought through our door. It is now time for my younger, energetic, and well-trained mentees at Olivia’s House to follow in my footsteps. I am confident in their abilities and feel blessed that I can take this backseat role, providing the much needed rest I have longed for!
My son, K.C., has been by my side learning and leading for almost fifteen years. He is amazing, and without him I would have succumbed to the pressures of the very difficult work years ago! Julia Dunn, our now Clinical Director, is amazing in her role. She embodies everything a professional needs to meet the demands of this job! Michelle Fox, having been in our ranks for over ten years and now Development Director, is a special employee who supports not only our volunteers but our generous community of donors. Could we be any more blessed? Oh yes we could, with our Board of Directors! This group of people, near and dear to my heart, help make it possible for our hardworking staff to keep our centers open and running seamlessly!
A BIG thank you to everyone for making my transition a wonderful one and for believing in the mission I brought to our community 20 years ago! I love you all!
Paying it Forward!!!
Posted: 8/1/21 by Julia Dunn, M.Ed., LPC (Program Director)
The families we serve give life to our mission, and all the children who come through our doors bring their unique personalities and perspectives. Last year, at the height of COVID-19, we at Olivia’s House piloted our first-ever Virtual Hearts Can Heal program. Unsure of how the teenagers in this program would respond in the virtual realm, our team was blown away by the connections made within the four walls of our computer screens. A connection so strong, in fact, that a few months after Hearts can Heal had ended, we heard back from one of our program graduates, Gabriella, who wanted to give something back to the mission that had given so much to her. We were intrigued by her proposal and felt honored to assist her with it.
As a class assignment, Gabriella was charged with the task of using speech to persuade others to donate to a charity. Without hesitation, Gabriella knew Olivia’s House would be the mission she sought to support! After meeting over Zoom with Clinical Director Julia to discuss the work of Olivia’s House, Gabriella combined all the new information she had learned with her personal experience in our programs to deliver a passionate, heartfelt plea to her classmates. By using the many tools gained during her time in our program, Gabriella became a walking billboard for the concept that Hearts Can Heal at Olivia’s House.
We are forever grateful to our alumni who see the merit in our mission, for they are the ones who continue the cycle of support at Olivia’s House. I will end with a quote from Gabriella herself, as no one speaks for this mission better than the children we serve: “You and the rest of your team truly touch lives in ways you couldn't possibly imagine, and you deserve every cent coming your way. Thank you for all you've done for the Olivia's House family, the passing community, and for me personally. Never stop believing in the mission!”
We Are Hiring!!!
Posted: 7/1/21 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)
The motivation for any and all change at Olivia’s House is directed by the needs of our community, and in that respect, our mission will continue to grow as our community evolves. Olivia’s House is accepting resumes for the position of Program Director. We are seeking motivated applicants with a strong mental health background, who would serve grieving families throughout the bereavement process.
Duties would include: performing family intakes, making appropriate referrals, leading peer support groups, and organizing WINGS social activities. Working with the Program Team, the Program Director also would provide training for our Companion volunteers and would promote community education.
If you know of a dynamic individual who holds a master's degree in psychology, social work, counseling, child development, or the human services field along with experience in children's bereavement, please ask that person to email a resume to KCDelp@oliviashouse.org.
Michelle Fox: Ten Years Later
Posted: 6/1/21 by Michelle Fox (Development Director)
If you would have asked me upon college graduation where I saw myself in the future, I would have responded with a shoulder shrug, and a hopeful, “We shall see!” At that point in my life, ten years ago, I made the choice to walk through the doors of Olivia’s House for the very first time. Fresh out of college, with no real-life experience and butterflies in my stomach, I was greeted by Leslie with a warm smile and a friendly welcome. We sat down in her office and so began my first professional interview (outside of working in the retail world).
I was nervous, and I still don’t remember what I shared with her during our interview. . . I blacked out from anxiousness! One thing that will always stick out to me about that day was that talking to Leslie felt like talking to an old friend - picking up right where we seemingly left off. I walked away from the interview feeling rather confident, but unsure if I would hear from her. Lo and behold, Leslie called me! This year, on June 13th, I will be celebrating my 10th Anniversary at Olivia’s House.
I have worn many hats over the years while working at Olivia’s House (very proudly may I add)! My starting role as the Program Coordinator taught me so much about our programs as I worked beside the children and families we served. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I also got to meet and work alongside our amazing volunteers. Fast forward a few years, and I transitioned to my role as the Administrative Director, where I started to learn the “business side” of the not-for-profit model, helping to plan our largest fundraisers and doing everything an administrator does.
If my years of experience have taught me anything, it is that hard work and dedication will carry you far. Here I am, celebrating my 10th Anniversary with a new title, Development Director. I never knew my career would lead me to where I am today, but I am so excited for the future. Now, if you would ask me where I see myself in the next ten years, I have a much more clear response!
The Beautiful Possibilities of Hybrid
Posted: 5/1/21 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
Years ago, when I was teaching both professionals and laypeople the importance of funerals, I recalled something that my mentor Alan Wolfelt had once shared with me. At the time, there was seemingly outlandish information regarding the latest development in the world of funerals and memorial services. Alan said, “We are a transient, busy society and to accommodate this, we are learning [that] the best way to commemorate our loved ones might have to be to use drive through services, much like fast food.” Can you imagine my reaction, as he went on to say that some funeral homes were planning to link a television camera into the service to broadcast the important final ritual for those loved ones living across the country who were not able to attend? In an industry that I had grown up in, one that thrived on the aspect of coming together to share an “emotional group hug” after a death, I was alarmed to think that technology may overtake even funerals, the most sacred of rituals. Twenty years went by and little was embraced of these innovative thoughts. . .that is, until we were all faced with the changes brought on by COVID-19.
I was among the many who celebrated the life of a deceased love one during the pandemic, and partook in my first-ever virtual funeral. I must say, though I was vehemently skeptical of the change in rituals before the virus altered our lives so drastically, I embraced the newness of the experience fully, and truly enjoyed my Aunt Vera’s VIRTUAL memorial service whole heartedly. She planned her service years ago, every detail marked with directions and specifics that would ease the pain for her daughter and grandchildren. Even though social distancing wasn’t included in her plans, the service was beautiful, just like Aunt Ve! We were able to utilize aspects of technology that allowed us to reach beyond our local friends and family, most of whom were foreign to video calls prior to March 2020.
While our hopes are high that the day will come that we all may gather in groups as large as we please, including to commemorate the end of a life at a funeral, that is not where the story ends. Using technology to assist in funerals was not a temporarily-placed bandage, holding us over until we could get “back to normal.” Rather, we have seen the beauty of a hybrid model, and how beneficial and inclusive technology can be in regards to funerals. As we move forward on this middle ground between the before and the after, we remember Alan Wolfelt’s wisdom. We are a transient society, but we are also a society that wants to connect, and if technology is yet another door that allows us connection, we are excited to keep that door wide open!