Caroline MacGregor January 24, 2013 | WGVU The new
Ele’s Place in Grand Rapids will be housed within the Third Reformed Church on Michigan Street. The weekly support group
programs are secular, but Ele’s Place President and CEO Laurie Baumer says the
church facilities and welcoming nature of the church’s leaders are a good fit
as far as a supporting environment in which to heal.
The new center’s Managing Director is Grand Rapids native, Gerilyn May.
In 2010, Gerilyn lost her
17-year-old son Steven to a tragic accident. Since then she has made it
her mission to provide a supportive haven for children and teens to grieve here
in West Michigan.
“We saw many kids grieving and we saw a lot of kids take different paths. All of them had wonderful family support systems but I really believe if an Ele's place was in West Michigan at that time I know so many families that would have taken avantage of it.”
hundreds of Steven's friends and classmates were devastated by the loss of their
“Many of these kids ended up going to college four or five months later and ended up feeling really isolated because; some of them were with friends who walked this grief journey alone and that's why I'm really passionate about what Ele's Place does because I really want to help other kids experiencing grief so they know that they are not in it alone, isolated but that there are services out there to help them walk through their grief journey.”
the US census bureau shows one in every twenty children experience the loss of a
parent, which in Kent and Ottawa counties alone, equates to 11-thousand grieving
children. Gerilyn believes Ele’s Place will offer children and teens, like
Stephen’s friends and classmates, a place to work through their grief and move
forward with their lives.
start enrolling now for the programs which are provided at no cost and are funded
through donations and philanthropic dollars. The center hopes to open May 1st
and is currently assembling a community
board and recruiting staff and volunteers. Training for
volunteer facilitators will be held in April.
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