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  • Writer's pictureMonika Niemasik

Healing Hearts Fundraising Breakfast for Ele's Place

On a cool fall morning, I had the privilege to attend the Healing Hearts Fundraising Breakfast in support for Ele’s Place. Ele’s Place is a healing center for grieving children and teens. 1 in 12 children in Michigan will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18. Additionally, unresolved grief is often linked with poor school performance, violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies.

Ele’s Place was founded in 1991 by a group of mental health professionals, concerned community volunteers and grieving parents. Following a great deal of research of other children's grief centers across the country, it was determined that peer support for grieving children was the best way to learn to cope with their feelings of grief, sadness, anger and loss. Nearly 30 years later, following humble beginnings in the basement of a church, Ele's Place now serves four communities and seeks to serve even more grieving children and their families.

The fundraising event took place at Marriott Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti. Following an early morning networking hour, guests were welcomed to sit and enjoy a light breakfast and coffee while learning more about the organization and the families they have supported. Three different families bravely stood in front of the crowd and presented their ‘Family Story’ of loosing a loved one. Children explained how Ele’s Place provided the support they needed at that time. Parents expressed how grateful they were that Ele’s Place provided a supportive environment for their family that was cost-free.

Ele’s Place has four different programs.

  • On-Site Support Groups that provide ongoing, weekly peer support groups for grieving children and teens, ages 3 – 18. Groups are facilitated by clinicians and trained volunteers.

  • Ele’s Group School Based Service is an off-site program in partnership with Ann Arbor schools and organizations, reaching children and teens unable to come to the building.

  • Clinical Consultations allow licensed social workers and counselors to provide grieving families with individual guidance and support.

  • Community Education that provides presentations, trainings, and guidance for educators, health care professionals, and schools interested in learning how to help grieving children and teens. All services are cost-free and families are welcomed to access Ele’s Place services as long as they may need.

To find out more information on Ele’s Place groups please visit

or call their office at (734) 929-6640. Further, volunteering with Ele’s Place is an excellent opportunity to enhance your communication and empathy skills while simultaneously giving back to the community. Those interested in volunteering should contact Madia Divirgilio at

Tables were decorated with flower arrangements that were filled with paper butterflies that were created as an example of an activity used at Ele’s place.

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