"HEARTS of EPA2" Stories

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In February 2022, we launched a NEW  communication series – ❤ HEARTS of EPA2 ❤!

Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. One little HEART story at a time. Donors. Volunteers. Staff. Former Families. Community Supporters. Board Members. Sponsors.

EVERY little heart story fills the HEART of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. Thank YOU!

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❤ KaDerrick Robinson – STAFF-BEREAVEMENT COORDINATOR ❤ (1 of 2)
June 16, 2022

“My mother was my best friend. I don’t think I could ever tell my story without mentioning her. She is actually one of the main reasons I became a social worker. In 2001, she was diagnosed with Lupus, but I did not learn this until five years later. It was amazing, and also disheartening, to watch her raise my brother and I as a single mother while dealing with Lupus. I watched her go to school for social work. I also watched her be taken away in an ambulance after she had just returned from the hospital days before.

“Through all of her successes and pains, she always had the biggest smile on her face. No matter what she was going through, she always wanted to help someone. After a long battle with Lupus, my mother died on October 9, 2012 – three weeks before my 19th birthday. I thought that I would be okay because I knew that she did not have to deal with Lupus anymore, but my grief was too heavy. I didn’t know much about grief at the time so my anxiety was constantly high and I was so confused about what was happening to me.

“Unfortunately, I would’ve been too old to attend groups at Ele’s Place when my mother died. However, I feel that if I had a healing center like Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, I wouldn’t have felt so alone and confused. I would’ve learned that there were other teens in my community that felt how I felt and could relate to what I was going through.

“Fortunately, I learned about Ele’s Place Capital Region while I attended Michigan State University and decided to become a volunteer support group facilitator there. It was a very heartwarming experience as a group facilitator. It also helped me with my own grief, and a few years later brought me to Ele’s Place Ann Arbor as a staff member.” ❤

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❤ Paula Crosby-Flake – ADULT CLINICIAN ❤ (2 of 2)
May 26, 2022

“I have been a Spouse and Partner Loss facilitator (Adult Clinician) since the fall of 2013. During my Ele's Place Ann Arbor training I learned about the adult groups that were offered to parents and caregivers. I knew then that being an adult facilitator would be the best spot for me. Not only did I identify with this group, experiencing my own adult grief journey after losing a young son and my husband, but I also appreciate the opportunity to offer this peer grief support that would have been so welcomed years ago.

“Grief support groups for the parents or guardians of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor children and teens are available and facilitated by Licensed Clinicians. Ele’s Place believes its’s important to be able to support adults in their grief, so the family can continue on their healing journey together.

“Watching group members connect during such challenging times is really a gift for me to see. I marvel at the resiliency and resourcefulness of my group members, and lend support and experience when warranted. The peer-to-peer support is heartwarming to watch unfold during our group, and I often witness lifelong friendships being made. This is what makes Ele's Place Ann Arbor so unique and special in what they offer to families who are grieving.” ❤

Paula Crosby-Flake, thank YOU for sharing your heart stories throughout the month of May! We are grateful for YOU – YOU fill the HEART of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. Congratulations on your retirement…YOU will be missed at EPA2 on a weekly basis, but we know you are a forever friend!! ❤

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❤ Paula Crosby-Flake – ADULT CLINICIAN ❤ (1 of 2)
May 12, 2022

“When a new member joins my adult grief support group at Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, I give a brief history of my own connection to loss, and grief. I always include that while my family received grief support from a local Ann Arbor agency, it was not comparable to the peer support offered at Ele's Place.

“My grief story began in the fall of 2001 when my 8 year old son died of cancer. It was such a sad time for our family with John leaving behind his dad, his older and younger brothers, and me. Losing our "middle" was life altering in many ways. Fast forward to February 2005, my husband Walt, and my children's dad, died of cancer. This added another layer of grief to our already broken hearts. We were starting over on the waves of grief, again.

“While we had a support system of friends and family, no one we knew had such complicated grief. The individual peer groups that Ele's Place Ann Arbor offers would have helped my children feel not so alone, and allowed them to feel connected to others with such great loss. Being connected to other young widows such as myself at the time would have given me the "me too" validation, and the ability to share the trials of being an "only parent.” ❤

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❤ Donna Roberts – FORMER EPA2 TEEN ❤ (2 of 2)
April 28, 2022

“Although it’s been about five and a half years since I lost my father, I am reminded of him and his love for me every single day. My dad was a racecar driver, and he worked on his car out in our garage. We have sold the car since, but we still have his tools and equipment. He was one of those guys who could fix anything, so in our home, I see the new faucet he put in, the floors he installed, and the closet that has his clothes still intact.

“I also see his truck in the driveway that we still drive sometimes. I can drive down the street to the local cemetery to visit him and say hello whenever I want. We also have a table in the front room that has a folded flag, along with all of the special mementos I have received from my dad and projects I made at Ele’s Place Ann Arbor that remind me of my dad.

“One Valentine's Day, my father gave me a wonderful stuffed animal that he helped me name. I loved her so much then, and I still love her, for she continues to help me feel connected to my father. Another thing that helps me stay connected to my father is Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, as that’s where I learned to keep the memory of my dad alive in my heart, as well as to help others do the same for the person who they lost. At Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, I was able to connect to others my age - meeting peers who have had similar losses to mine helped me put my own grief into perspective by seeing that I AM NOT ALONE. 

“I have, unfortunately, aged out of Ele’s Place because I’m no longer a teen. However, I am grateful to be able to participate in Ele’s Place Ann Arbor fundraisers and contribute to events, in whatever way I can. I love being a part of this tremendously wonderful organization.” ❤

Donna Roberts, thank YOU for sharing your little heart stories throughout the month of April! We are grateful for YOU – YOU fill the HEART of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. ❤

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❤ Donna Roberts – FORMER EPA2 TEEN ❤ (1 of 2)
April 14, 2022

“The most vivid day I remember with my father, was his last. It started out as a wonderful day…it was snow day from school AND, it was my dad’s birthday. I remember being so happy to spend time with him. The weekend before I baked him a wonderful cake that he told me looked delicious, and I had all his presents wrapped and ready. It was also Christmas time, so I wanted to bake Christmas cookies, but we were short on ingredients. My dad drove me to the grocery store to get some supplies, and I am so thankful for that trip, as it was the last thing I ever did with him.

“We returned home from the store, my family came over, and then I went upstairs to play Barbie dolls with my cousin. Before we got to cake and presents, my father had a massive heart attack and passed away. My father was a very healthy man - never ever sick or unhealthy, in fact, he was even a racecar driver. I remember feeling…in shock, in a dream-like state, and being remorseful for my mom, myself, my aunt, and my dad’s twin sister - it was her birthday that day as well! I remember going to bed, waking up, and hoping that the day before was a dream, but then I looked at my mom and realized it was unfortunately not a dream. I was so thankful for my community from my golf team, dance team, church, and school friends who were there to give me support during that incredibly difficult time. For the next few months, every day seemed numb, trying to step up, because now it was just my mom and me.

“Thankfully, my mom found a wonderful healing center where she and I could go to process our grief - Ele’s Place Ann Arbor! I remember thinking how much wanted to attend, because my mom told me about it and said I WOULDN’T BE ALONE. I was happy that at Ele’s Place I was a part of a group and surrounded by other teens my age who had a similar loss to mine. I did not want to feel singled out or alone through the grieving process, I was excited to be able to go there.

“Without Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, I would have a lot less emotional control, and I would not be able to talk about my father like I am right now. Furthermore, I would not have had anything to look forward to for quite some time. I really enjoyed coming each week to see my peers, who became my friends, and to be with my wonderful, perfect facilitators, whom I cannot say enough amazing things about. I wouldn’t have met some wonderful people who have truly changed me for the better.” ❤

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❤ Mike Halpern – VOLUNTEER ❤ (2 of 2)
March 24, 2022

“It’s now 2022, and I’ve been an Ele’s Place Ann Arbor volunteer grief facilitator for eight years. The Ele’s Place peer-to-peer model creates a forum where similar-aged children and teens engage in facilitator led activities, each designed to help them process their feelings of loss, sadness, and pain, as well as the many unexpected changes that accompany the death of someone in their life. They discuss complicated feelings at their level. Not surprisingly, children and teens find common ground to discuss, and as a result, don’t have to feel alone, isolated, or different.

“As a volunteer facilitator, this metaphor illustrates grief for me: Grief is like a terribly painful scar that gradually hurts less as it fades, but never goes away. It is always part of you, but it changes and takes on different forms.

“Talking with others doesn’t eliminate grief for children and teens, but it does make it easier for them to process it and begin to move on with their lives. I am so honored to be an Ele’s Place Ann Arbor volunteer facilitator, and so happy that there is an Ele’s Place for children, teens and their families to attend, so they DON’T HAVE TO GRIEVE ALONE." ❤

Mike Halpern, thank YOU for sharing your little heart stories throughout the month of March! We are grateful for YOU – YOU fill the HEART of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. ❤

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❤ Mike Halpern – VOLUNTEER ❤ (1 of 2)
March 10, 2022

“January 31st, 1969 was a cold, wintery Ann Arbor day that started with my brother Andy and I walking to Wines School. After lunch my second-grade teacher walked me to the principal’s office. To my surprise, Andy was waiting for me. Why was everyone so quiet and grim? Mrs. Dickson, a family friend drove us home without saying a word. Our mom let us in, burst into tears, and said, “Your father died this morning.”  Andy started sobbing. I struggled to comprehend the moment. I was frozen…it felt like an atomic bomb detonated in my abdomen creating a void of emptiness and hurt. When I returned to school the kids, even my friends, avoided me. Glassy-eyed teachers acted like everything was normal. I knew that EVERYTHING had changed. I would be alone, isolated, and different for the rest of my life.

“As an Ele’s Place Ann Arbor grief support group volunteer facilitator, I often reflect back on how much my brother, my mom and I could have benefitted from peer grief support when my dad died. I am so honored to be an Ele’s Place Ann Arbor volunteer facilitator, and so happy that there is an Ele’s Place for children, teens and their families to attend, so they DON’T HAVE TO GRIEVE ALONE.” ❤

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❤ Molly Dobson – DONOR ❤ (4 of 4)
February 23, 2022

“You need that purpose. A sense of purpose and deciding what’s most important to you, where you would most like to share your riches with those who are in need. It’s hard to be a good donor. You have to be very conscientious. … I like concentrating on my own community, where I can know the need, I can know the leadership, I can know what’s being accomplished and how purposeful it is.

“Grief is so absorbing and so negative, and so hard to get away from. … Maybe you’ll never mend, but partially mend, or get closer to total mend. I’m just so glad Ele’s Place Ann Arbor is in our community.” ❤

Molly Dobson, thank YOU for sharing your little heart stories throughout the month of February! We are grateful for YOU – YOU fill the HEART of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. ❤

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❤ Molly Dobson – DONOR ❤ (3 of 4)
February 16, 2022

“In 1972, at age 21, our son Peter was killed on US-23. There was a knock on the door, the police said he was dead. He died instantly in a head-on collision. … Grieving was terrible. Bill said to me, “Molly I can’t talk about it, I don’t want to talk about it.” And, all your friends don’t know how to talk about it. They just feel ill-equipped to talk about it and don’t want to go there. And, there were no outside places to help.

“I just marvel at the meaningfulness of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor and the way you can mend wounds for families. … There wasn’t support when Peter Dobson was killed. There was nothing, except a class at WCC. But we need that help, nobody can mend by themselves. They need a family and when you can come to a place like Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, you’ll find that family that you can love and listen to. … It warms my heart that Ele’s Place is located in our own Ann Arbor community. They tenderly address the needs of individuals processing deep seated grief caused by the loss of a beloved family member or friend.” ❤

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❤ Molly Dobson – DONOR ❤ (2 of 4)
February 9, 2022

In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Navy Women’s Reserve Act, creating what is commonly known as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), a division of the U.S. Navy during WWII. Molly was commissioned a Naval Officer after graduation from the University of Michigan in 1944. She was sent to Washington DC and began her year and a half tour of duty encrypting and deciphering coded messages during the war. Thank you for your service, Molly Dobson!

Molly recently shared this treasured message with the Ele’s Place Ann Arbor staff, “Thank you for all the tender loving care y'all provide in our community. As a former Naval Officer, I salute you, one and all, for the job you're doing in helping to mend broken hearts in our Ann Arbor community. It's a job that needs doing, to be sure, and I’m so happy all of you are doing it in style and with the deepest of convictions!” ❤

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❤ Molly Dobson – DONOR ❤ (1 of 4)
February 2, 2022

When asked about where her legacy of philanthropy, generosity and thinking about other people began, Molly responded, “I can think of one instance with my father. It was my 21st birthday, I was living at the Delta Gamma house [at University of Michigan], and [my parents] came to bring me a present and say hello. Here I was two months from graduation and my dad said to me, “Sis, what are you planning on doing?” I hadn’t thought much about it…I said well, maybe I’ll be a stewardess. Airplanes were big transportation at that time and looked very exciting and inviting, and it would be a traveling experience. This was 1944 mind you, we were deep in war on both coasts. And, my father said “Do you think that’s doing enough for your country?”

“And, there was a seed that was planted, you have an obligation to do more.” … “It’s been a privilege to be an Ann Arborite and learn what a nonprofit is, and to support programs that support people in need. Ele’s Place Ann Arbor is one of my favorite ones, and needs a lot of support.” ❤