Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, a grief support center for children and families, graduated its first class of volunteer facilitators for the April 2019 opening of its new center in Newark. The new volunteers took part in a 32-hour training spanning four days, during which time they learned the skills needed to support children and families coping with the loss of loved ones – whether these be parents, siblings, work- or school-mates.
Imagine peer support grief groups are led by volunteers who come from all walks of life. All they need to possess is a willingness to listen, a heart inclined to serve, and the ability to be with children and adults in pain without trying to fix, solve or give advice. Imagine’s professional staff members train volunteers in how to facilitate groups, providing support and creating a safe place for those in grief.
“Our first Newark training class was enthusiastic and amazing in their ability to quickly learn the techniques that will help them facilitate grief support groups,” said Jacelyn Matthews, Program Director of Imagine Newark. “The beauty of this training is that the skills learned will serve our volunteers not only at Imagine, but in the rest of their lives, as well.”
“As demand is strong at both the Mountainside and Newark Imagine locations, the need for many more volunteer facilitators will continue to grow,” said Mary Robinson, Imagine Executive Director. “We encourage anyone who is interested to contact us at 908-264-3100 and to visit www.imaginenj.org/become-grief-support-facilitator/.”
From top row (L to R): Patricia Porterfield (Newark); Carmen McPherson (West Orange); Sara Huisking (Hawthorne); Brenda Williams (Newark); Shiana Torres (Morristown); William Dorsey (Parsippany); Novella Dorsey (Parsippany); Dr. Theresa Allen Johnson; Antoinette McKie (Marlton); Anisah Wilcher (Newark); Constance Palmer, Imagine Clinical Training Director. Front: Sherrell Arrington (Linden); Jacelyn Matthews, Imagine Newark Program Director; Chantaya King (Elizabeth); Monica Stith (Hackensack); Clarisse Bradshaw (Newark); Luisa Sanchez (Newark); Latrice Smith-Quinones (Newark); Liliana Santillan (Belleville); Jamie Saltamachia, Imagine Newark Program Associate.
Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization, provides free year-round grief support for children and young adults using a peer-support group model. Trained adult volunteers and professionals provide children and teens with comfort and the tools needed to process grief resulting from death or life-altering illness. In addition to providing grief support at its centers, Imagine provides education in the community, leading workshops and providing on-site support in schools and workplaces where traumatic loss has occurred. Currently, more than 330 children and adults from more than 55 New Jersey towns participate in Imagine’s groups, which meet on weekday nights. Imagine has two centers in New Jersey — in Mountainside and Newark.