Sheryl Neeland has many years of experience relating to children as a USD 428 school counselor. But her contribution to the welfare of youngsters doesn’t stop there.
Neeland also volunteers to help children through the grieving process during the annual Memories Matter Bereavement Camp.
This year’s camp is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at Assembly of God Church, 601 S. Patton in Great Bend.
Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice (GBHH&H) created the camp and directs it every September for children ages 5-12 who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.
The event is free of charge and is underwritten by St. Rose Health Center. GBHH&H is part of the St. Rose family.
“When a loved one passes away, children don’t say anything about it because they think it will upset everyone,” Neeland said. “Everybody is thinking about the person but no one is talking about the situation.
“We can help these youngsters at Memories Matter,” she continued. “It is important for kids to share memories; and our organized activities are designed to help them do that.”
For example, children and counselors create memory boxes and memory booklets that contain photos and other mementos.
“These items can help kids retain clear memories in the years to come,” Neeland explained. “The activity also fosters spontaneous conversations that are important to the grieving process.”
While parents and guardians don’t have to participate in Memories Matter, Neeland encourages them to do so.
“The camp is beneficial to adults too,” she noted. “Helping parents is as important as anything we do because ultimately they help their children. Sometimes the conversations get too emotional for the camp venue but that is okay. They can take what they learn at Memories Matter and follow up later at home.”
Neeland also noted some children attend the camp for more than one year. “It is rewarding to see the growth from year to year. One young girl came back as a teen mentor. I have been so impressed with her and her guardian for this commitment.”
The counselor’s background is at the elementary-school level but now she serves Great Bend Middle School. Her children also have volunteered at Memories Matter.
Donita Wolf, GBHH&H manager, said she appreciates the support from the Neeland family.
“We called on Sheryl more than 15 years ago, seeking her expertise,” Wolf said. “She had referred children to Memories Matter and we thought she could help. We were right.”
In addition to Wolf, Chaplain Larry Schumacher and Social Worker Cathy Soeken represent GBHH&H at the camp.
Activities include music, art projects, games and a puppet show.
“Children discover they are not alone in their grief,” Wolf commented. “They feel so very alone and it helps when they interact with others going through the same thing.
“Children are the forgotten mourners,” she continued. “A death brings the need to cope with emotions and adjustments. It is a heavy burden. We want them to know their feelings are normal and a reflection of the love they have for the person. This has a profound impact.”
For more information or to register, contact GBHH&H by calling 620-792-8171; stop by the office on St. Rose’s first floor; or visit www.strosehc.com.
St. Rose Health Center specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine, Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic, Great Bend Internists, Imaging, Cardiac Rehab, Physical Therapy, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. Hays Medical Center, which is part of The University of Kansas Health System, is the sole owner of St. Rose.
St. Rose Health Center complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age disability, or sex.