York County grief center benefits from the races


A center for grieving families will be the beneficiary of a racing-themed fundraiser hosted by a local automotive supply store.

The event is slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown. It's hosted by BAPS, which offers coatings, painting and other automotive equipment.

The event: The fundraiser will boast special raffles with prizes that include a 2016 track season pass and a custom-designed race helmet as well as T-shirt sales, with all of the proceeds being donated to its partner agency, Olivia's House.

"It's kind of neat because you don't often think of racing and nonprofits working and coming together," said Debbie Krout-Althoff, BAPS's marketing coordinator. "The racing community has proven to be such a giving one, and it's definitely been beneficial for these charities."

The event will have children's games for the duration of the evening after a photograph and autograph session with BAPS-sponsored drivers Brent Marks and Chris Frank.

Last month, BAPS hosted another fundraising night for the facility and raised more than $4,000. "We expect to make at least $2,000 more this weekend," Krout-Althoff said.

Olivia's House: "We're a grieving center for children and their families," said the center's program director, Gerry Gaugler. "Essentially, when a child has had someone die in their life, we bring them and other families who are coping together so they can see they're not the only ones who go through it."

Founder Leslie Delp, throughout her career in grief and loss counseling, saw the benefits and positive impact of group counseling and opened the center in York in 2002 as the state's first and only independent grief center for children and teens.

In 2013, Olivia's House opened a second location in Hanover, making it the only free grief counseling center in the country with multiple locations, according to Gaugler.

Families who have received and are currently benefiting from counseling at Olivia's House are all invited to participate in the BAPS night.

"We just want to give them something to enjoy, something to help them feel supported and to forget whatever it is they're going through, even if it's just for one night," Krout-Althoff said.

Services: Olivia's House offers counseling to families with children of all ages and have four-week programs for families with kids ages 3 to 5 and a separate one for those from ages 18-25. They also have an eight-week program for families with children from 6 to 18 years old called Hearts Can Heal.

"Each week we have a different topic that we cover," Gaugler said. "We get to know each other, we have a week where we focus on memories, and for the shorter programs we go into rituals toward the end or what kinds of things they can do on their own to cope."

The longer program includes a week where those who have graduated from the program return and discuss their own experiences, a trip to a funeral home and an in-depth look at coping methods, Gaugler said.

"All of our services are available at no cost, so we get all of our funding from community donations," Gaugler said. "That's why we're so grateful for agencies like BAPS who have really stepped up and help us continue to grow."

For more information on Olivia's House or to make a donation, go to www.oliviashouse.org.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.