JourneyCare pet therapy volunteers bring a variety of trained, furry companions to visit patients in their homes, assisted-living and care facilities, and our Hospice CareCenters. They may also comfort campers at Camp Courage, JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for children ages 6-13, who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Twelve years ago, I was a patient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC). The day that I was transferred there was a low point for me as I’d hoped instead to be going home. As I settled into my new surroundings, I noticed a dog and its owner standing in the hallway outside of my room. Before I knew it, the dog was at my bedside, resting its head on the side of my bed and looking up at me with eyes of love. The dog was one of several therapy dogs assigned to work at RIC. To this day, that visit stands out as a turning point in my long recovery from major surgery and multiple strokes. As a life-long dog lover, I told myself that someday, when I had the time, I would train a therapy dog so we could bring the same peace and joy that I’d experienced to others.
Camp Courage provides a safe, supportive and fun environment for campers to explore and express their feelings. Activities are led by professionally trained counselors and trained JourneyCare volunteers.
Have you ever really watched a thunderstorm? Sometimes it moves in slowly and you can watch as the clouds roll in, the rain starts to fall, and the thunder rumbles. Other times it hits unexpectedly, it’s loud and aggressive, ending with a peaceful breeze and sunshine. In a way, grief can be a bit like a thunderstorm too. It doesn’t always move in a steady predictable pattern. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, while other times it moves in waves.
Camp Courage is JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for kids who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Twenty-five years ago, my dad's cancer returned. I was 9 years old at the time and didn't fully understand the magnitude of the situation. He declined quickly, and only four months after his diagnosis, he died. This trauma still lives with me today, but I have been able to live with it thanks to the support I received in the aftermath.
The most significant boost I received at that time was from JourneyCare. My mom immediately enrolled our family in their monthly grief support groups, and it was there that I learned that I wasn't alone in this world. While my experiences were unique — like anyone else's — I took comfort in knowing that there were other children that would be going on a similar life journey to my own.
I’m a new JourneyCare team member just three months into my role as a digital specialist, but our work in the Marketing Department has already allowed me to see our organization from all facets. Sometimes we create fancy graphics and posters for exciting events like this year’s Allstars of Project Runway fundraiser. Other times we help develop communication tools that help our clinicians do their jobs more efficiently. But one of my favorite projects so far has been photographing and documenting the great work JourneyCare continues to do in the community.