Lois Petty of Pasco knows first-hand the difference Cork's Place can make for grieving children and families.
Her grandkids have been going there for about seven years, after their parents died.
To them, the program based in Kennewick provides a safe and accepting environment. That's due in no small part to the trained facilitators who volunteer at the center to help kids in their healing process.
They're a critical part of the Cork's Place operation, and at this time more are needed.
A 32-hour training over three weekends is planned early next year. Applications must be turned in by Dec. 2.
Cork's Place is a program of The Chaplaincy, serving kids ages 3 to 18 and their families after the death of a loved one.
It's housed at Chaplaincy's Bereavement Center on West 19th Avenue and has a large activity room, a room filled with art supplies, a dramatic play area that helps kids act out their feelings, and even a room with mats and other soft things where it's safe to let out their anger.
"If the kids want to talk, they can talk. If they don't, they don't have to. It's all about choice here," said Heather Babler, coordinator.
The kids meet in groups based on their age every other week during the school year. The facilitators work with them -- not judging or forcing conversations, but listening, being engaged and present.
While the kids are downstairs, grown-ups -- parents, grandparents, older siblings, caregivers -- are upstairs. That time together is valuable, too, said Petty, who cares for her grandkids.
"It's a way of expressing ourselves as well and hearing other people's stories" and learning and gaining insight from their experiences, she said.
Petty said Cork's Place is "a safe place, because (what's said there is) kept there. It's not broadcast everywhere. You feel safe in talking about it."
It's helped her granddaughter, who turns 16 this month, open up and express herself.
And her grandson, now 12, has found support there, too.
"We probably will never get over our loss, but at least it gets easier as we go," Petty said. "It's helping us to deal with our losses."
The facilitator training runs Friday evenings and Saturdays for three weekends -- Jan. 10-11, Jan. 24-25 and Feb. 7-8.
For more information or to sign up, call 783-7416 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald