Grief Support Group Facilitator
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Ele's Place

Grief Support Group Facilitator

You’ll help facilitate a weekly peer support group in Grand Rapids for children and teens grieving the death of a family member or close friend. As a trained facilitator, you’re creating a space where all feelings are okay and where kids can connect with their peers in what can too often be an isolating circumstance. The groups are split up by age: preschool through first grade, 2nd-3rd grades, 4th-5th grades, middle school, and high school. You’ll be placed in a group based on the current facilitator openings, as well as your preferences.

The support groups looks different each week: one week may be about anger or sadness, and the next week you may be exploring memories of the deceased. There are also many happy moments at Ele’s Place. Ultimately, your goal as a group facilitator is to meet kids where they are at, while practicing active and reflective listening. You’re not there to fix their problems, because grief can’t be fixed, but you can talk about smoothing out the bumps along the way.

After arriving at 5:30 p.m., you’ll meet with your group’s facilitators to briefly talk through your evening and receive ongoing mini-trainings. Then all the families, facilitators, and staff gather together for a potluck dinner before everyone breaks out into their respective groups. (Most of the parents attend a support group, as well!).

The staff provides supplies and may suggest activities based on the goals planned, but it’s up to you and your co-facilitators to tailor to your group’s particular needs. Ele’s Place staff members join children’s groups as needed; however, the groups are very much facilitator-led. You’ll be empowered to know your group and the kids in it. Ele’s Place staff will come alongside you every step of the way to ensure that you feel fully equipped to be an effective facilitator.

Each of the children’s groups spend time in activity rooms throughout the night. The kids have the opportunity to choose between a quiet activity room and a loud activity room. In the quiet activity room, there are therapy dogs, crafts, and sand trays. In the loud activity room, kids can rip up phone books, punch a punching bag, do cartwheels, or run under a giant parachute.

At the end of the evening, you’ll meet with your co-facilitators to process together, and then all of the facilitators meet to share memorable moments and ideas about what has been helpful. All groups are facilitated by volunteers with the support of clinical staff. You’ll be empowered to think through what activities and conversation topics are best for your group of kids.

Show me how to get started
Commitment
5:30 - 9 p.m. weekly (Mon. or Thurs.) for at least one school year
Requirements
19+; pass three background checks
Neighborhood
Northeast Side
Location
Third Reformed Church
2060 Michigan St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 2060 Michigan St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
U.S.

Is This the Right Fit for Me?

You understand that no one “gets over” grief, but they can be learn to cope with their loss. You can meet and accept individuals where they are. You like the idea of getting to know the kids well and following their journey while they’re in the group. You don’t need to have experience in counseling, therapy, or social work; it’s really about your ability to be a genuinely active and compassionate listener. You enjoy working with kids and seeing them grow.

About Ele's Place

Ele's Place is dedicated to creating awareness of and providing support for grieving children and their families. Through peer support group programs, Ele’s Place helps children cope with the death of a parent, sibling, or other close family member or friend. Ele's Place recognizes that children's grief is unique and that unaddressed grief can have a negative impact on children’s health and well-being. Death crosses all religious, cultural, and economic boundaries. Ele's Place helps all grieving children and their families cope with their loss by providing support from peers, professionals, and trained volunteers. As a result, the children learn to accept the tremendous changes they are experiencing, and thus continue their lives with hope and confidence. All of Ele’s Place services are provided free of charge to ensure that all families, regardless of financial means, are able to participate and benefit from their services

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What Others are Saying

"I like that Ele's Place recognizes that even very young children grieve, and each member of the family is given a group to find support. It is a privilege to be allowed into people's lives at such a vulnerable time. Every week that I can create a safe space for the kids to support each other is a success. Staff and other facilitators provide constant feedback and support that makes you feel part of a positive, productive community. Contrary to many people's perception of a grief support group, there are not incessant tears. Ele's Place has a lot of laughter and play. It is a wonderful place to volunteer if you enjoy children. You are not responsible for having answers or fixing someone's life. You are asked only to walk along side someone and create a safe, respectful space for people to support and relate to each other. Volunteering at Ele's Place has been the most rewarding experience of any in my life. Ele's Place is a transparent organization with integrity. I am proud to be a part of Ele's Place."

Kimberly

Contact the Organization

If you’re ready to ask some questions and get started, contact the Ele's Place directly.

Michaela Ayew-ew Bereavement Coordinator 616-301-1605 x 102

What to Expect

Submit an application, and Michaela will reach out to you with more information. She’ll answer your questions, explain the training process, and add you to the next training. You’ll meet with Ele’s Place staff for a pre-training interview, which is a chance to share your story and talk through potential scenarios a facilitator may experience. The training (typically in summer and winter) is 23 hours and takes place on two Saturdays and two weeknights. The training provides a framework for grief and loss, discusses the developmental stages of children, stresses the importance of empathic listening, and provides instruction regarding how to be an effective facilitator. As a new facilitator, you’ll be partnered with one or more seasoned facilitators.