Through the month of November, our writing team is pleased to highlight the numerous resources and organizations they are passionate about, in an effort to celebrate a season of thankfulness and inspire our readers to find an opportunity to give back to the community around us.
By age 18, one in five children will experience the death of someone close to them – a parent, sibling, grandparent, friend. Research has shown that death of a loved one affects a child’s school performance, emotional stability, mental health, behavioral problems, and other relationships.
Kyle’s Korner dedicates itself to helping children, teens and their families deal with the death of a loved one, and it provided the kids and I a home-away-from-home for several years after my husband died. It was a place my kids didn’t have to feel like they were unique in only having one parent, where it was okay to cry or be angry, and where there was always a ton of love and understanding.
Twice a month, the kids and I would drive to Tosa to an unassuming house on North Ave. Only a small sign in the front yard indicated this is not an ordinary house. Kyle’s Korner meetings always start with a family-style dinner. The staff serve home-cooked meals (made by volunteers), and families eat at two long tables. It’s a time to share what’s been happening and catch up with one another before the “real” meetings start.
Kids and parents are separated after dinner, with the kids going upstairs to work on age-appropriate activities around a central theme. The activities range from art programs to games to discussions, and there’s always an opportunity for kids to opt out or spend time in a quieter room.
Research shows that kids process death and loss better when surrounded by peers, and that’s what Kyle’s gives to kids – a place to be a kid around other kids going through similar things, whether they lost a parent, grandparent, sibling or another loved one. A staff of volunteers coordinate and facilitate these activities.
While the kids are meeting, the parents (or other adults) talk downstairs. It’s a time to reflect on how the kids are handling the loss – and how the parents are handling the loss. It’s not formal counseling (although the group has a facilitator), but it’s a friendly environment that encourages parents to share and offer hope, love, and support to one another. The talk gets real; crying is okay, and all the families support one another in a loving and positive manner.
In addition to the twice monthly meetings, Kyle’s also sponsors a weekend-long camp experience for the kids, an annual candle lighting ceremony, and a balloon release – all designed to remember those who died.
Milwaukee is fortunate to have a place like Kyle’s Korner to help kids – and parents – through the most difficult time in their lives. The organization provides its service free of charge to families, and it’s based off of The Dougy Center/The National Center for Grieving Children and Families model.
There are several ways to give to Kyle’s:
- Kyle’s needs volunteers to make meals for the families. Meals can be as simple as hot dogs and chips, lasagna, or turkey and mashed potatoes. (Plus, the kids – and parents – always appreciate dessert!)
- In order to provide activities for the kids and meals for families, there’s a wish list on the website with everything from art supplies to kitchen stuff.
- Volunteer group facilitators are critical to Kyle’s Korner services. Volunteering as a facilitator requires an application, background check and completion of training (conducted twice a year).
- Kyle’s Korner could also use monetary donations. Services provided by the organization are free of charge to families because of the generosity of donors.