Imagine peer support groups are available for New Jersey children and families coping with loss due to death or illness. Support groups are facilitated by trained adult volunteers who attend a four-day training and ongoing continuing education programs. Volunteers come from all walks of life and need no special background other than a willingness to listen, a heart inclined to serve, and the ability to be with children and adults in pain without trying to fix, solve or give advice. Twelve new volunteers were recently trained to become facilitators. Volunteer facilitators learn how to create a safe space, facilitate difficult conversations, and develop the skills that will serve them not only at Imagine but in the rest of their lives as well.
“We could not be more grateful for this exceptional group of people,” said Mandi Zucker, Imagine’s Program Director. “Our programs have grown tremendously in the past few years and we need to keep training new volunteers to keep up with the demand. In this particular training, we also needed to make sure to have Spanish-speaking volunteers because we are starting a group for Spanish-speaking adults in the fall. We are also expanding our Coping with Illness program to include children who are affected by an illness in the family, so we need to make sure to have enough volunteer facilitators to meet these needs.”
Imagine has over 90 active trained volunteers from 34 different New Jersey towns. “Our participants come from over 50 New Jersey towns with very diverse backgrounds, so it’s important to us that our volunteers represent that same diversity. We are always looking for ways to engage people in all levels of the organization that represent the participants that we serve,” Ms. Zucker continued.
There are other volunteer opportunities besides facilitating support groups. Imagine is looking for people to provide hospitality and to help set up and clean up on each Night of Support, serve on the Board of Trustees, help in the office and on various committees, and conduct DIY fundraisers for Imagine online and IRL (in real life!) If you are interested in getting involved, go to www.imaginenj.org/tours to register for a one-hour information session.
Imagine is a free year-round peer grief support center located in Mountainside, New Jersey serving children, young adults and parents/guardians who have had a parent, sibling or child die. Support groups for family members of a person living with a life-altering physical illness are also available. If you are interested in learning more about Imagine, visit our website at www.imaginenj.org
In the photo above are Imagine's July 2018 Class of Volunteer Facilitators! Back row: Yolanda Lamb, Rahway; Mandi Siegel Zucker, Imagine Program Director; Paola Pinzon, Rahway; Thomas Rich-Caverly, Cranford; Denis White, Fanwood, Marcus Bourbon, Montclair; Constance Palmer, Imagine Training Director; Middle Row: Roberta Zito, Scotch Plains; Marlene Kalaigian, Scotch Plains; Antonia Cleaveland, Cranford; Melissa Walters, Rahway; Front Row: Aly Rentrop, Scotch Plains; Angela McGee, Kenilworth; Amber Hill, Newark.