Coping with grief is a personal process that is often made easier with the love and support of others.
That is the idea behind Comfort Zone Camp – a special place where children who have suffered loss are encouraged to heal.
“A lot of them experience the feeling of isolation and they feel like they were robbed of their childhoods,” said Mendi Nieters, vice president of development with Comfort Zone Camp in Raleigh. “They might have had to grow up too soon and might have to jump in and help their mom or dad in a different way than they did before.”
Comfort Zone offers a special three-day program so children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or caregiver can take part in all the fun activities of a sleep-away camp while being supported by caring adults and other children who have experienced grief.
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“After they go through our program they now feel like they can be a child again and that it’s OK to be a child again and that it’s OK to have fun and experience life and that does not take away the memory of the loved one,” Nieters said.
Comfort Zone Camp is a national nonprofit with a presence in the Triangle. Twice a year, camp is offered at no charge to participants on the grounds of Camp Kanata, a YMCA property in Wake Forest. It is a volunteer-intensive program; each camper is paired one-on-one with a volunteer.
“Every single piece of the weekend is extremely intentional, even to the point that we pair each child with an adult mentor that might have similar hobbies or a strength that would be good for them to emulate or see that would help them through their process,” Nieters said.
Comfort Zone Camp will host a volunteer training session Saturday, Sept. 12, to prepare for camp in October. Information is available on the group’s website at comfortzonecamp.org/northcarolina.
Kristen Stefureac began volunteering with Comfort Zone in 2008 as a college student. During training, she learned about a young-adult camp that she then attended as part of her personal journey through the grieving process.
“When I first started as a camper and volunteer I was a freshman in college and my mom had just died when I was in high school and I didn’t really know too many people who had lost a parent,” Stefureac said. “I found a community that really understood what I was going through.”
It was her experience on both sides of Comfort Zone Camp that shaped her decision to earn a master’s degree in social work and specialize in childhood bereavement.
“The program is amazing but the people are what make Comfort Zone what it is,” Stefureac said. “I tell people Comfort Zone is my second family. They have been there for everything.”
Being ready for unplanned emergencies is the theme behind a community Preparedness Fair on Saturday, Sept. 12, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Six Forks Road in Raleigh.
The fair will offer sessions on topics ranging from storm safety to preparing emergency kits to using generators and chain saws.
The event was inspired by Church member Teri Hanna. She battled a middle-of-the-night fire in her kitchen and now shares a message about the benefits of preparedness.
“We were thankful that we knew what to do in an emergency before it happened so we were able to respond in ways that preserved our lives and property,” Hanna said.
The Red Cross and the Raleigh Fire Department will give presentations, and the Wake County Emergency Management 911 Robot will teach children about calling for help.
“The scripture teaches followers of Christ to be prepared,” said Matthew Harding, president of the Raleigh Stake of The Church. “Improving our physical preparedness strengthens faith and spirituality because it helps remove fear and worry about the potential impact of some of the adversity we experience in our lives.”
The free fair is open to the public and will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Watts Chapel Baptist Church is celebrating its 139th anniversary with a block party.
The event will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at 3703 Tryon Road, Raleigh.
Guests will be treated to live jazz, games, bounce houses, face painting, food and a “dunk the pastor” booth.
The congregation invites friends, neighbors and other churches to attend the block party and also the homecoming service on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Introduction to Theology
Dr. Juan Ayala-Carmona will lead a series of classes on theology this fall at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh.
Classes will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 10 through Oct. 29. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of the book “Christian Theology: An Introduction to its Traditions and Tasks,” edited by Peter Hodgson and Robert King.
The Rev. Carmona is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church of America and is a member of St. Andrew’s. He is a retired prison chaplain who writes about prison theology and Latin American Liberation Theology and has taught courses at colleges and seminaries.
The classes at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Carmona at 585-743-8231.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.