On August 10th, Rick’s Place hosted their first-ever Family Day at the East Campus of Springfield College. Family Day was an incredible opportunity for all of the families and volunteers involved with Rick’s Place to get together for an afternoon of fun activities and gentle reflection in memory of their loved ones.
Motivated by the desire to honor the memory of Rick Thorpe, a young father and Wilbraham native who died in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, Rick’s Place opened in March of 2007. Through free facilitated support groups, Rick’s Place offers grieving young people and their families a place to remember their loved ones and to avoid the sense of isolation that such a loss can produce.
“The kids who take place in Rick’s Place programming tell us how important it is for them to be with other kids who experienced the feelings of isolation that they feel after the death of someone special,” said Therese Ross, Program Coordinator at Rick’s Place.
Wilbraham resident Tina Palatino and her family joined Rick’s Place nearly two years ago after her son Landen passed away due to brain cancer. “Everyone’s grief is different, but coming together in a group with the understanding that we all have experienced it, even if we’re at different places in our grief, has been very supportive,” said Palatino in regards to the benefit Rick’s Place has had on her family.
Family Day was an all-day event which included activities like yoga, crafts, and a ropes course. The day also allowed for emotional moments of kind remembrance of Rick’s Place members late family members.
“As we were planning this day we were focusing on the importance of allowing the children and teens some time with their peers,” said Diane Murray, Executive Director of Rick’s Place, “there was also a very important focus on family time. We want our families to feel stronger when they leave here, hence our motto ‘families that grieve together, grow together’”.
“It was special, fun & somber all at the same time. Families know they are their grieving for their loved ones but they do find hope and love and support in each other,” said Karen Nogueira, a volunteer at Rick’s Place who attended Family Day, “It’s beautiful to see, you even get some smiles when you least expect it!”. Karen has worked as a facilitator with Rick’s Place for over a year, volunteering alongside her co-worker at Pioneer Valley Financial Group, Kelly Haber.
Rick’s Place’s services include children support group meetings for ages 5-18, evenings caregiver support group, and evenings grief support groups at area schools. These groups are a peer support model and are facilitated by trained volunteers who are supervised by professional staff. All volunteer facilitators have completed a comprehensive 17-hour training that addresses bereavement, child development, reflective practice, and group curriculum planning and facilitation.
If you or a loved one might be interested in joining Rick’s Place as either a member or volunteer, you can call 413-279-2010 or visit https://ricksplacema.org/ to learn more.