Volunteer Spotlight: East Falls Teen Group
Meet Megan Maxwell, Genevieve Manahan, Tara Fay and Eleanor Vasquez – the incredible volunteers that commit to helping facilitate our East Falls Teen peer support group. Their amazing work has helped create a community filled with healing and hope among our teens at The Center for Grieving Children.
Genevieve: I began volunteering with The Center as part of a community outreach program through Drexel’s College of Medicine. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible from the amazing passion and dedication of the volunteers and staff, and the incredible inspiration from the kids who attend group. Their love for each other has inspired me to approach life with the same love for the people around me, a lesson that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Tara Fay: During college I lost a very dear friend. At the time I reached out to my university counseling department and joined a campus support group for bereavement. It was a process unlike anything I had ever experienced, and more helpful for me than talking to any one person.
After some healing time, I knew I had to find a way to help others during their grief. Finding the Center felt almost serendipitous, as I randomly walked by one of the Center’s previous locations shortly after beginning my search for a volunteer opportunity.
The most important aspect I take away from each group is the value of a shared emotional experience. There is nothing more meaningful than building relationships with strangers who have the strength to admit their fears, sadness, and hopes for the future. I leave every group feeling connected to something so much larger than myself, in a way I never have before.
During one of my first sessions ever as a volunteer, one of the elementary students approached the chalkboard, and asked if she could write something. Intrigued, I watched her write, “I like being here.” It was a simple, heart-warming moment, and those moments happen every time we meet. I couldn’t agree with her more.
Megan Maxwell: From the very first orientation, I felt welcomed and at home with the leadership and other volunteers. I initially came in with an interest in working with children, but ended up facilitating one of the Teen Caregiver groups. I’m so glad that I get to work with this group! I often find myself watching in amazement as the caregivers listen, support, and offer feedback. The support in the room is overwhelming and a true indicator for me that the peer support model of The Center for Grieving Children works.
One of my favorite parts of the experience has been seeing the bond develop between the Caregivers. They truly care what is going on for each other both in and outside of group. When someone misses group, the absence is felt and the others are eager to welcome them back and say, “we were thinking about you last week.” The time and effort the caregivers take to make sure their teens are getting support for their grief is humbling.
Lauren [the Program Director at The Center] and the other East Falls Teen Facilitators are such a support! I enjoy hearing their perspectives on each group and always feel 100% heard and supported. I really can’t thank the CGC enough – both for the wonderful resource they provide to families and the community, but also for the support and opportunity they provide to volunteers.[Note from CGC – we can’t thank YOU enough. Your work and commitment to CGC is so inspiring and needed.]