Children do heal from the trauma of losing a loved one.
Leslie Delp said she has seen this healing happen for children throughout York County while leading Olivia's House, a grief and loss center for children.
The center, at 830 S. George St. in York City, is observing its 10th anniversary this year. The center has served more than 1,400 families since it opened, Delp said.
She founded Olivia's House in September 2002, with the idea for it growing out of a Hearts Can Heal program that she sponsored for eight years with local J.J. Hartenstein Mortuary Inc. and the York Cancer Center.
In the program, children share their personal grief experiences with other kids who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
The name: She decided to expand her work by opening Olivia's House, named after Olivia Allen, who went through a Hearts Can Heal program in Gettysburg after her mother died. Olivia, 8 years old at the time, had started helping other children in the program, Delp said.
Now, Hearts Can Heal is one of the main services provided at Olivia's House, which also works with families of its young clients.
"It is a gift and a privilege to be able to walk beside a grieving child," Delp said. "To see them heal just before your very eyes, that's an amazing gift."
A success: Olivia's House has been successful in serving grieving children, said George Foley, a member of the action team that helped start the agency. The team also researched ideas on where to locate Olivia's House. Foley also was an original Olivia's House board member.
"We got off to a good start," said Foley, 71, of West Manchester Township. "This program helps (children) understand not just why we have funerals, but what the funerals are supposed to do for them and what (the children's) role is going to be moving forward. And it's working."
Delp said Olivia's House also provides training programs for teachers and school counselors on how to help grieving children and for professionals who specialize in grief and bereavement services.
Delp said she speaks nationwide about her work and about the programs at Olivia's House. She said she also has the privilege of working with her son K.C. Delp, who is the center's executive director.
"We just get each other," she said. "He completes my thoughts and makes me want to come to work every day."
Fundraiser: The center recently held a diamond anniversary gala and raised $100,000 that will be used to fund the center's programs, Delp said.
The center will continue its fundraising efforts by holding its first ever "Walk to Remember" fundraiser from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 22, at John Rudy County Park, 400 Mundis Race Road in Springettsbury Township.
The goal is to raise $25,000 to fund Olivia's House and its services. The public has until Sept. 1 to sign up to participate in the walk.
The center does not charge for its services and does not receive state or federal funding, Delp said. More than 91 percent of its funds come from community donations, she said.
"This community has made certain that we have everything we've ever needed, and that is extraordinary," Delp said. "And the community has been doing this for 10 years."
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at email@example.com.