As we move past the one-year mark of providing virtual peer grief support to kids, teens, adult family members, and young adults, we are thrilled to announce our plans for returning to in-person groups. This plan is based on state and federal guidance, as well as factors unique to Dougy Center.
One important factor is that of consistency. We know that consistency is beneficial for kids, but especially for those who are grieving. In reopening for in-person groups, we are prioritizing being able to continue to stay open for all of our families. In addition, our plan also takes into account distribution of the vaccine, and the opportunity for all staff, volunteers, and families to be vaccinated before returning in person.
Dougy Center will continue to provide virtual support groups through July 31, and have the option for in-person or virtual groups starting in September. We have found that virtual groups, especially for families in our Pathways program when a family member is living with an advanced serious illness, can have benefits for those who are grieving.
In late June and July, Dougy Center will host two opportunities for families to gather in person at a Dougy Center location. These will be held outdoors to ensure they are as safe as possible for everyone. The gatherings will likely take place over the course of several days, so that all age ranges and Dougy Center groups will have the opportunity to be together.
In August, Dougy Center staff will focus on new policies and procedures related to social distancing and maintaining safety, training new volunteers and refreshing skills of volunteers who haven't been in group during the pandemic, preparing our spaces for the return of kids, teens, and adults, and placing participants into their desired groups.
Starting the week of September 6, Dougy Center in-person groups will begin again! We will continue our usual schedule of each group meeting every other week, and we look forward to seeing families and volunteers in our centers again.
We are extremely grateful to our generous community who has continued to support Dougy Center and programs for kids, teens, young adults, and families who are grieving. It has been a challenging time, especially for those who are grieving. With your help, our support groups have continued to grow, and we look forward to serving more families into the future.