Transcript: Kate Lannan, Education Director for A Haven (The Art of Volunteering)

The following is a transcription of The Art of Volunteering Episode S2E54: Kate Lannan, Education Director for A Haven.

Stormy Bell (00:00): Welcome back to another episode of The Art of Volunteering. I’m your host, Stormy Bell. Many of you may have noticed that we’ve been on pause since June, and I just wanna share a little bit about that. My mom passed away Memorial Day weekend of metastatic colon cancer. It was a quick diagnosis. It was nine weeks from the time she found out to the time she passed. There’s just been a lot with that grief journey, so I decided to take the summer off. Some of you have reached out, and I do wanna thank you for that. In part of that, I’ve invited my guest today. They’re part of A Haven and they work with bereavement counseling with youth and families. My guest, Kate Lannan, is going to share more about that. She’s the education director and I hope that you really find value in today’s episode because everyone at some point will have a grief journey and it’s good to know that there are people out there who are willing and able to help you through it. Welcome Kate, I’m so excited to have you.

Kate Lannan (01:10): Thank you. I’m honored to be here.

Stormy Bell (01:11): Yeah, this is exciting. We met for the first time Monday night. We’ve been emailing. I’m like, I know we’re gonna talk on Saturday. It was so exciting.

Kate Lannan (01:21): Yes, I was very glad to have kind of a previous in person.

Stormy Bell (01:28): That’s great. Alright, I’m gonna just read to our listeners a little bit about Kate. Kate is a licensed social worker and the education director at A Haven, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to partner with grieving families by providing grief support, education, outreach to the community, and hope. Kate graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice with her master’s in social work in 2014. She has spent her social work career alongside grieving children and families in a number of settings, including the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Kate joined the A Haven team in 2018 after moving to West Chester, where she currently lives with her husband and three children. As I already mentioned, welcome. I’m glad that you’re able to join us.

Kate Lannan (02:21): Thank you so much for having us.

Stormy Bell (02:23): I’m gonna start off and just give you the platform to talk about A Haven. Who you are, what you do, how did it get founded? What was identified as the purpose? Just share about your organization.

Kate Lannan (02:38): I would love to. As you mentioned, A Haven is a nonprofit organization. We work with grieving kids ages three to 25 and their grownups. We serve primarily Chester County, though we do have families reaching out from other counties in Pennsylvania, from within the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. We were co-founded, which is beautiful. We were founded by two women who both had been working with grieving kids in different capacities. Our executive director, Michelle Noble is a child life specialist by trade. She had also worked at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Liz Dreibelbis, our clinical director, is our other co-founder here at A Haven. She had been working in hospice. She’s an art therapist by trade. She had been working as the bereavement coordinator for a hospice program. They kind of met and together realized, hey a lot of what we’re doing is supporting the kids in the work that we do.

The reality is that for a lot of the kids, their grownups are not well supported. Really the kids are kind of only well and only okay when they’re with the people who are supporting them. They’re going home into an environment where the adults are not supported and the adults are not equipped. They kind of knew from their own professional experiences that in order to support kids well, the grownups have to be tended to also, especially when we’re dealing with grief and bereavement and when we’re talking about death, because a lot of grownups themselves have a grief story and have a history of loving and knowing someone who died and they themselves were not supported well as children so how can we expect grownups to care well for little ones when maybe no one did that for them, or they never had a model of how to do that.

Kate Lannan (04:31): Liz and Michelle started dreaming about this organization that could really do both. They sat down together and they literally looked at a map and they said, where in this area are families not being served? Liz knew from her experience working in hospice and driving around to different homes that out in Chester County, it’s a huge service area and there was nothing specifically out in this area. Families who lived out in Chester County and in Southern Chester County were often driving an hour or more for support if they were even able to do that, if they even had the means to do that. They were able to identify Chester County as a really underserved and huge geographical area, and they knew that this was the place to set down roots. They founded A Haven in 2017. We received our 501(c)(3), we had our fifth birthday this past February and from there they started offering groups and they were able to really design programming that targets kids and their grownups together so that families can get support out of A Haven, but also learn how to grieve well together, talk about their people who have died, share their memories and feelings together away from A Haven and begin that healing journey together outside of our space.

Stormy Bell (05:51): Very cool. Can you elaborate on, well share about, you are a small staff, right?

Kate Lannan (06:00): We are, yeah.

Stormy Bell (06:01): Gee, but you’re small and mighty ’cause you do such incredible work. Correct me, you have five staff members and 30 volunteers. Did I get that right?

Kate Lannan (06:09): We have right now about seven staff members, which has been huge for us because two years ago we had just three. It was Liz, Michelle, and myself. We are in a season of tremendous growth. This year we are preparing to welcome our largest volunteer team with just about 30 members coming in, 19 of whom are new for us this year, which is really exciting.

Stormy Bell (06:36): Wow. You’ve explained who A Haven is and how you serve. How do volunteers fit into this? Are they licensed therapists? What does that look like?

Kate Lannan (06:53): Especially at A Haven, volunteers are really the backbone of everything that we do. Everything that we offer to kids and families is offered to them at no cost. We are able to do that because we have a really beautiful team of committed people who are here and who do this work for no pay. They are volunteering just to be here with kids and families. Because of them, we are able to offer our services at no cost. Our volunteer team really is the critical backbone of everything that we do. That’s intentional for a number of different ways. The cost piece is one of it, but really we want our services to be reflective of the community that we’re serving. Our volunteer team really handles that piece of it for us as well. The people who are here giving support are just regular people from the community, the same as the families who were coming to access that support.

Stormy Bell (07:48): So having been through my grief journey and bringing my experience, I could volunteer with you?

Kate Lannan (07:54): Yes. You absolutely could.

Stormy Bell (07:56): You have a training program that I would go through on your side of it?

Kate Lannan (07:59): Yes. So thank you, that reminds me to answer the other part of your question. Our volunteers really, I mean, their backgrounds are so varied. We have some who do have clinical backgrounds, we have volunteers who work during the day in school, and then are on onsite with us in the evening to provide support groups. We have volunteers who have no clinical background, just a love for working with kids. We have volunteers who have their own personal grief story and are driven to A Haven specifically for that reason, to be able to remember their people who have died in a really active way. Kind of this meaning making process of being here and having their grief story then be used as a catalyst to pay something forward back into the community. So their backgrounds are very varied. We provide all of the training that you need, kind of some baseline clinical skills to be able to sit in group and hold space.

Really then kind of a general overview of what actually is grief when we talk about grief, what are we actually talking about and what does that look like at each different developmental stage? Because again, we have on site here kids ages three to 18 and, and their grief looks very different than a grief that we would typically think of or expect to see in an adult. Our volunteers are really equipped to be able to meet kids where they are at each different, each different developmental stage from three to middle school to teenagers that looks different for them as they grow and change. Our volunteers are really able to hold each different stage because of the training that we provide. So yes, anyone can reach out to be a volunteer and we provide everything that you need to be ready and equipped to sit in that room with families when they get here.

Stormy Bell (09:50): Wow, that’s incredible because I just, some of the people that you like the groups that you just mentioned, like I can imagine age-wise, you run the gamut. You talk to someone younger, middle age, even retirees all coming in at different places on that spectrum. That’s really cool. You said on onsite, so you have space in your building and then you also go to the schools. What does that look like?

Kate Lannan (10:25): So A Haven has a beautiful location in Exton. We are on Route 100 on space here. We have different rooms available again for each different developmental stage and including a space that our adults can use. That’s just for them, where they can sit for their portion of the group where they’re just spending adult time together and it’s comfy. There’s couches and they can just sit and talk. Then as you mentioned, we also do go offsite and out into the community, into schools by request from the school counselor. We know that for a hundred different reasons, not every family is going to be able to come to A Haven in the evening. We really wanna make sure that there’s no barrier for service for those families as well.

We will meet kids right where they spend most of their time in schools. We will put together a peer support group with other grieving students from the school. Again, we do that in partnership with the counselors. It’s really the counselors who let us know what they’re seeing and what they need and what will work best for their students. Then we can just kind of go out and put something together that works for that specific group of students. We really try hard to carry our family centered approach home, even when we’re in a school group. A Haven is family centered, our groups are family centered. That means, as I talked about in the beginning, we really want kids and families to be safe not only when they’re here at A Haven but when they’re at home together as well. In our groups, we do a lot of work to kind of make ties between what the kids are doing and learning and experiencing and what the grownups are talking about, and kind of helping people figure out how to do that together away from here.

Kate Lannan (12:03): Even when we’re off site in a school group, we might only be meeting one or two members of the family if we have a sibling set in the group. You know, we’re only meeting the two kids right where they are at school. We partner with the counselors to make sure that some grief education is going home, that there’s information going home about, Hey, your kid’s participating in this group at school. This is who A Haven is. This is how we’re ensuring that your child is safe when they’re in this group. Here are some things that you can talk about together at home, or some activities that we did in group that you could ask them about. Again, just kind of trying to build some small steps to ensure that those conversations are continuing at home too.

Stormy Bell (12:46): Wow, that’s powerful. On your website, and it might even be in your mission statement, you talk about grief literacy.

Kate Lannan (12:54): Yes.

Stormy Bell (12:55): Can you explain a little bit more like, just explain what that is.

Kate Lannan (12:59): I would love to. This is the piece that I feel so passionate about in our mission. Again, as a part of our mission, education is right there baked in, right in that mission statement. That is because we want kids and families to be safe when they’re not at A Haven. If you’re going back out into a community where your coworkers or your neighbors or your family friends or your extended family don’t know how to support you when you’re grieving or are uncomfortable talking about your people who have died or are uncomfortable, when you are feeling emotional, that doesn’t feel good. We want really the greater Chester County community to know how and to be equipped to support grieving kids and families. On our website,, there is a separate resources page where we just have teaching sheets [on] a bunch of different topics.

We’re adding to this little library all of the time about how do we talk to kids when somebody dies by suicide or by accidental drug overdose. How do we talk to kids when someone dies after a long illness? How do we talk to students in the classroom when one of their classmates has experienced a death? How do we talk to grieving teens, young grieving children? How do we memorialize our people who have died? So really wanting anybody in the community to be able to access those resources and create their own little toolkit of supporting people when they are grieving after someone has died and be able to kind of feel comfortable doing that, right? Because again, the reason that we feel uncomfortable is because we care about people and we love them and we don’t wanna do something that’s gonna hurt them or be harmful.

Kate Lannan (14:50): Because we feel like we don’t know what to say or we don’t know what to do, sometimes we don’t do anything. That hurts too. We don’t want people to be feeling that kind of uncomfortable dance of, what do I say? Do I say nothing? When do I say it? How do I say it? By providing these free online resources, we want the community to be equipped. Then we also do go again offsite from A Haven by request and provide grief education and grief trainings to schools, other community organizations, really anybody who is interested in learning how to support grieving kids and families, well we will come and deliver specific grief education so that really everybody can be a part of standing behind kids when someone has died.

Stormy Bell (15:38): Wow. I’m glad I asked.

Kate Lannan (15:41): Yeah, I am too!

Stormy Bell (15:42): My mom was in her late seventies, and so while it is a grieving process, she’s older so it’s almost okay. But when you talk about someone who may have overdosed or a car accident, something where in our finite minds, it’s kind of like they’re taken prematurely. There is a whole other set of emotions and head space that you’re in that you’re not in when they’re 78 and it’s just their time, you know? So having that as a tool, I’m already tucking that away to just be aware that it’s there if I encounter that where I am. That’s really cool.

Kate Lannan (16:36): Yeah. Thanks.

Stormy Bell (16:38): Alright. I wanna circle back a little bit and talk about you. You started out in social work. Is that what your undergrad was in? Because I know you mentioned your master’s work.

Kate Lannan (16:48): No. I am a social worker kind of by heritage. My dad was a social worker. He spent his career in social work. I had kind of kept it in my brain and considered it at different points over the course of my young adult life. It was funny ’cause my dad always said like, I don’t want that for you. Social work can be so difficult and you could choose something easy or something that does not carry the emotional weight of being a social worker. It just was always, that itch was always there kind of waiting to be scratched. I did my undergraduate degree at Temple University in communications, which I think has served me really well in my role at A Haven because I am a social worker by trade. A lot of the work that I do here at A Haven is about communicating with the larger community and with different audiences about how to support grieving kids and children and my communications degree serves me really well in that way. 

My dad died from a very brief and unexpected cancer journey when I was 26. I had turned 26 about a week before he died. At the time I was working at a nonprofit organization and really loving the work, but also kind of arriving at that place of I’m not really able to grow in this role without some additional education or without kind of pushing myself to take the next step. About a year after he died, I realized social work has always been calling for me. It was finally time to answer that call. I initiated my master’s coursework at that time in 2011, and it was home for me. You know, I knew kind of that this was where I was destined to be.

Kate Lannan (18:38): This was the type of work that I wanted to be doing that my soul had kind of longed to do. But also that my journey up to that point, again, spending time in communications and spending time in nonprofit organizations, that I really had to do that first and build some of those skills first in order to be the best social worker that I could be. So I kind of found my way to social work. I took the long way but found my way to it eventually as a young adult.

Stormy Bell (19:05): So you would definitely be one of those people who they referred to having a calling on their life.

Kate Lannan (19:11): I think so!

Stormy Bell (19:12): That this is your calling.

Kate Lannan (19:13): Yes. It has always felt, once I arrived, it was like, okay, yes. This was the right place for me.

Stormy Bell (19:22): Alright. This is The Art of Volunteering, do you have a volunteering journey?

Kate Lannan (19:27): I do. When I was pursuing my MSW, I volunteered in a couple of different ways and I enjoyed at the time working with teens and very young adults. I volunteered with some organizations in Philadelphia who were focused on supporting teens and young adults as they aged out of the foster care system. I thought kind of going into my social work career, that that was the type of work that I wanted to do. It was really only through the coursework that I had at Penn with a professor who was local out in this area, actually, Lara Krawchuk taught some courses at Penn about grief and grieving. It was when I sat in those classrooms that I realized, oh this is the work that I’m meant to do within social work.

Kind of ended up switching gears a little bit at that point. Because I loved volunteering and because I love just getting to be a part of the community where I’m working, I find that volunteering really gives you that opportunity in a way that a regular full-time job doesn’t necessarily do. Because when you are volunteering, you are so community focused. I switched gears a little bit at that time and actually started my career at A Haven as a volunteer. Knowing that grief and bereavement work was the type of work that I wanted to do, then as I continued kind of seeking volunteer opportunities or seeking different ways to be connected to grieving people, as I moved out to Chester County, I stumbled upon A Haven and started my journey here with A Haven as a volunteer.

Stormy Bell (21:09): Oh, that’s awesome. You kind of mentioned it, but I’m gonna ask you specifically, why do you volunteer?

Kate Lannan (21:16): I volunteer because as a social worker, the community and the communities that people live in is really important to me. I know that that’s a really important piece of people’s identity. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to serve people, which I love to do. To be of service to someone in whatever capacity that may be. It gives me the opportunity to do that in a way that feels more like a peer relationship. I can be with you just as a part of the community that you are living in. I can support an organization that I feel excited about or that I feel passionate about in a way that allows them to expand their reach. That also just allows me to be a part of who they’re working with and a part of who they’re serving. Volunteering for me feels like a way to just be a part of the community that I’m living in, while also being of service to the other people who live in that community with me, right. Like my extended neighbors while also being a part of allowing an organization to expand the way that they’re delivering their services.

Stormy Bell (22:28): I love it. So building off of your time at A Haven, both as a volunteer and as education director, can you share a story of impact? Something where you truly see the work that you’re doing and the impact, the outcome on an individual’s life or on the community’s life?

Kate Lannan (22:53): I remember when I first started at A Haven as a volunteer, I started coming to groups. Even, you know, me as a trained clinician and someone who had done a lot of grief work prior to being here, when I showed up on those first group nights, I felt nervous. What is this gonna be like? It was interesting to think about supporting the kids and the grownups at the same time. I felt a little, I don’t know, I was a little nervous about doing that. What would it look like and what would it feel like and how would it be received? I remember seeing really clearly in the body language of the kids and their grownups who were here that night. This was like our first night together, that they were really nervous too.

If you’ve been to A Haven, you know, we have lots of places to sit. There’s lots of benches and couches and just places where you can be comfortable and kind of sit and gather together. I remember the kids with their grownups kind of huddled together on the bench makes me emotional to think about, because I know even as a mom that moment of like, we need to be here and this is really important, but I’m scared and I want my kids to be okay. I remember this visual of this mom huddled together with her two kids and seeing and really feeling in the room, like their nervousness of like, is this gonna be harder? Is this gonna be okay?

Kate Lannan (24:28): Then I remember watching every week as they just transformed into this family who knew and trusted that they were gonna be safe here, that they were gonna have fun here, and that they together could do the work of remembering their dad and her husband. As the weeks went by, you would hear the footsteps in the hallway as the kids came, like flying down the hallway running to get to the room to get out the ping board, the ping pong paddle, get to the ping pong table, and play with the volunteers who were here. Mom is like dragging behind them in the hallway, kind of like slowly walking down the hallway with her purse and her coat hanging up her stuff. Again, just trusting that, I don’t need to be right on top of my kids, and my kids don’t feel like they need to cling to me because they know that they’re safe here.

We’re coming here to do this hard work. It’s painful and sad to think about what has happened and what it means for our family, but we get to do it in a space that’s really safe with people who I trust, care about me, and care about my kids and who my kids know care about them, and they trust these people and they’re excited to be here. Really getting to watch the transformation of feeling really afraid and apprehensive to be here, to being excited to come to a grief center. Right? It feels so different than what you would expect, but they really, they’re excited to be here. They want to see their volunteers, they want to play with these people and tell them about what has happened since the last time they were here. Really getting to see and know that like, okay, this family’s gonna be okay. A large part of that is because they have a place like this where they can kind of rest and get stronger together as they do this work of rebuilding their family lives after this loss has occurred. That, for me, watching the transformation that families have, and I’m thinking of one family in particular, who  I was here with in the beginning of my journey with A Haven, getting to watch that family’s transformation really drove home for me the impact of the work that happens here.

Stormy Bell (26:48): You made me think of another question sharing that. How long does a family stay with you?

Kate Lannan (26:54): Oh, great question. As long as they want. Families get to be the ones to decide what they need from A Haven, what that looks like. We’ve had families who come and stay for years. We’ve had families who come for a year, feel great, and then come back a year later and say things have shifted or things feel hard and we wanna come back. That’s great. Our teens in particular, we have a teen night here at A Haven, which is the one group that looks a little bit different than a lot of our other groups in that the teens are here, just the teens. They have kind of free run of the space. Their grownups don’t stay with them. Our teens in particular come and stay for years.

I mentioned earlier that A Haven just turned five years old. Last year we had our first crop of teenagers who had been with us throughout their high school journey and we’re graduating from high school and getting ready to move on to college, and they kind of got to graduate from A Haven too. That was really special. Really for us, we feel that we are the experts and we are bringing one piece of this journey to the table, right? The grief support and how to design the grief support and how to support people well. The families really bring the other piece of it, which is that they’re the experts of who they are and what they need and what works well for them. They kind of get to decide, how long they’re here and what they need from us.

Kate Lannan (28:28): There is no limit to services on our end. Families also get to decide when they’re ready to come. We don’t have a rule that says you can’t come until it’s been six months since your person has died. Family readiness is really the determining factor for us and that looks different for every family. Every family works really closely with our family services director. When they make that first call and that first reach out for support they partner with her really closely, Carrie Silver, to determine is this the right time? Do we need to pause? Can we jump in? If they’re safe and they’re ready for group, we’re ready to welcome them here. They can stay as long as they need.

Stormy Bell (29:11): It’s very peaceful to know that you’re not gonna be rushed. No 12 months, you gotta be ready. You’re able to help navigate, because I gotta think in high school, there’s so many just normal high school levels that you just go through the experiences to add that layer of grief on top of that, that you might think you’re good for the beginning of the year, but by the time you get to Valentine’s Day, spring break, whatever that looks like, you’re like, oh, I need help. I’m not in the right space anymore.

Kate Lannan (29:50): Absolutely. You touched on something really important too, which is that over the course of a child, every developmental stage that they go through, that they experience their understanding of the death and their emotional experience of the death shifts and changes as well. You might have a child whose person died when they were in kindergarten, and now they’re in fifth grade and they’re getting ready to graduate from elementary school. From the outside looking in, you would think, well, the death was six years ago, surely this child could not be sad about this thing. They must have moved on or be over it at this point when in reality, that death is fresh and new in a different way for that child than it was when they were five years old. Even as we think about different milestones, you mentioned high school in particular, when we’re thinking about prom night and graduation and all of those pieces the grief never goes away for a child. It just changes as they grow and change and as they experience fun moments of life or challenging moments of life or big milestone moments the grief is fresh at any of those times. That’s another reason that it’s really important for us that families know that we’re here and that they can come and be with us and be with our volunteer team whenever they feel that they need it.

Stormy Bell (31:16): I’m gonna switch subjects slightly.

Kate Lannan (31:19): Okay.

Stormy Bell (31:22): You’ve had this career of working with people, different aspects, they come teen nights, all of that you’re teaching from the educational aspect of it. You have family services. Can you share a blooper, something that not necessarily went wrong, but just didn’t go as you planned and what did you learn from it? Because you’re dealing with so many different aspects, there’s gotta be something that was just like, I thought I was gonna go this way and we went completely in a different direction.

Kate Lannan (31:58): Oh my gosh, I am sure I have had so many over the course of my career and especially over my time at A Haven. This is so tricky. I think about all of the school groups that I have done, and all of the times that I have gone like with an activity in mind, and I’m like, this is the activity that we will do and the kids just go like a totally different direction with it. I’m trying to think if I can give you a specific example. I will say this in elementary school groups in particular, there was one that I had this past spring and I just never knew what those kids were gonna do. We would go in and I’d have this activity in mind, this is really gonna resonate with them and we’ll make like a little animal out of model magic and it will be great. The number of times that they would turn that into an opportunity to laugh about the word butt. Now they’re using their model magic to make a butt instead of what I had originally anticipated. With the young kids in particular, and even here on site, it’s like, we’ll think this activity will be so great, and then all of a sudden they’re wanting to paint the walls instead.

What I get from those moments, and like I do have a sense of peace with those now as I’ve gotten more time and more experience under my belt. Whereas, you know, years in the past I might have felt a need to like redirect in a situation like that. I have kind of learned to let them laugh about butts together because what’s actually happening in that moment is they’re connecting with the other kids and they’re doing the work of relationship building, which is also really important. The reality is when they’re sitting in a room with me at a school, I’m thinking of this elementary school group in particular where it was very often about like butts and farts.

Kate Lannan (34:12): They know why they’re there with me. They know why they’re in the room. They know why the other kids are in the room. Sometimes they’re not ready or in the mood to go deep into their grief. If the end result of that session is that they just get to kind of laugh together and be with other peers who again, they know the other kids in that room have had an experience similar to them, then that’s a great outcome. They have done the work of being able to connect with another kid who understands what they’re going through, and that they, again, have gotten to see and kind of learn through that process that like grief is a normal part of life and not something that needs to be forced. Or not something that I’m gonna make you talk about when you’re not ready to talk about it or when you’re having a great day and maybe you just want to kind of feel silly and feel really energized that you can trust that I’m not gonna try and make you do something different is really powerful too.

So being able to, through the process of many years worth of like having an activity go totally left being able to kind of realize that there’s actually, there’s actually beautiful work happening underneath of that. That the kids are building trust, having their grief experience normalized and getting to connect with each other that I’m like, now I can just kind of like let it go a little bit.

Stormy Bell (35:42): There’s healing in that laughter.

Kate Lannan (35:44): Absolutely. Yeah.

Stormy Bell (35:45): Alright. Kate, I’ve enjoyed our conversation. We’re at the point in the interview where I let you have the platform I want you to love, like all capital letters, love on A Haven. Just why should people get involved, whether they volunteer or support you, like just love on them, something that maybe we haven’t brought up so far. 

Kate Lannan (36:10): This is so easy for me to do because I love A Haven. This is the one place, this is the one organization that any kid, every kid, any family, every family will need at some point. We will all lose people we love, lose people we care about. We will all watch other people we love lose people that we love, and we will hurt for them and not know what to do and long to be able to fix it for them. This is something that will happen to everyone over the course of our lives. It is here that people get to do that work together. It is here that people don’t have to feel alone, that kids don’t have to think that they’re the only person who knows what it’s like when you’re young and your mom or your dad or your brother or your sister or your favorite aunt, your favorite uncle, or your grandma has died.

When you’re young and you look around and think, nobody understands what I’m going through. I’m the only kid who knows someone who has died. Here is the place that’s not true. That whoever you are and whatever you’re experiencing on any given day is fine. Whether that’s a really difficult grief day or a day that you’re super excited and super energized and really happy to be here, all of that’s okay because that’s what grief is. Grief is the love that we have for our people who died that we have to carry with us after they’re no longer with us. Sometimes that’s painful to hold and sometimes it feels okay. Here is the place where families get to figure out what that looks like together. At A Haven, our logo is a nest. That’s because a nest is a place of safety and refuge that is built slowly, piece by piece over time, by weaving together twigs and leaves and other materials to make a place that feels safe to grow and rest and get stronger.

Kate Lannan (38:29): That’s what A Haven is. A Haven is a place where you can come and rest and figure out what life looks like now that something terrible and sad has happened. You can grow and get stronger as a family while you weave together these different things, right? These new relationships, these coping skills, this sense of community, the sense of hope that comes from knowing that your kids are gonna be okay while you get to weave all of those things together and build for yourself, for yourself, and for your family. A new nest, a new place of safety and refuge. While you’re here at A Haven, A Haven gets to be that place, but you will build the safety and refuge that you have in the longer term going forward as a family. We can’t do that for families. We can’t be that place of safety and rest and fun and hope without volunteers being here, making meaning from their own losses relating to kids and saying, you’re not the only one that’s happened to me too.

Getting to be with the kids while they grow closer to each other, while they make those connections to each other. We get to do that all at no cost to families. Families can come here and they don’t have to worry about how am I gonna pay for this? Am I gonna pay for this support that my kids need or are we gonna have a Christmas this year? That’s not a part of the equation here, and it’s because of the people who come and serve as volunteers. It is because of them that we get to be a place of safety and refuge for families and a place of safety and refuge for our team too. I mean, A Haven, there’s something really special here, and our families know it and our team knows it. We hope that the community knows it and can feel it too, that anyone might need us and anyone and everyone is welcome here whenever they do.

Stormy Bell (40:35):  Oh, that’s beautiful. Well thank you Kate for being my guest today. I know my listeners have found value because I’ve found value. I’ve so enjoyed our conversation. Just reflecting on my own journey, how the Memorial Day weekend where I’m at a different place than I am even now three months later, and just knowing like I’m in the year of firsts. First birthday she’s not here. First Christmas and what those emotions look like at every step of it. Yeah, thank you.

Kate Lannan (41:17): Oh, thank you for having me. It was an honor to be here and to talk with you.

Stormy Bell (41:22): Appreciate that. Alright. Thank you, listeners. We’ll be back in two weeks for our next episode. I hope that you tune in and please feel free to share with your friends and family The Art of Volunteering because America might run on Dunkin’, but the world runs on volunteers. Have a great day, bye-bye.

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