Lighthouse for grieving children is looking for volunteers


The Lighthouse for Grieving Children is looking for volunteers to bring emotional support to children who have lost a loved one.

The Oakville organization was co-founded by Jo Fallon in 1999, inspired by the Seasons Centre for Children’s Grief in Barrie.

At the age of six Fallon found her mother dead on the bathroom floor in their home and the way her family tried to protect her and help her cope with it was by not talking about her mothers death at all, program director Candace Ray said.

It wasn’t until the age of 17 when Fallon shared her experience with her classroom, and that was the first time she felt safe.

She started this program on the principle that there is the ability to heal from emotional wounds and she wanted to help children heal in the way she found helped her.

“ We do not offer counselling or therapy, but some of our activities can be therapeutic and we have trained facilitators and professional staff on our team,” said Ray in a telephone interview.

“There has been an explosive growth in children and families joining our organization every year,” said Ray.

More than 100 children and families now use the service, which is why this outreach for more volunteers comes from.

The centre was located in church basements for a few years, until 2005 when it got its own home at 82 Wilson St.

The agency is a free service that is funded by donations, private buisinesses and community foundations like the United Way agency.

The centre helps children aged 3 to 18 who have lost a parent, sibling or family member and need help grieving.

There are three age groups, children aged 3 to 10, tweeners aged 11 to 13 and teens aged 13 to 18.

During the sessions, there are talking circles where children discuss feelings, stories and memories of those close to them who have died.

The agency also holds discussions of how to deal with grief attacks, where children have an overwhelming feeling of grief.

“The organization looks for volunteers who are interested in helping children and they need to be settled enough to be consistently present for the children,” said Ray.

No post-secondary education or special experience is required, but volunteers must take a 21-hour, three-day training program, she said.

“I have been looking for a volunteer program that I could be a part of, so I would definitely consider this one,” said Sara Albazi, 23, Sheridan College student taking a continuing education program in Human Resource Planning.

The grieving program runs three hours per evening every other week from September to June.

Volunteers have to make a one-year commitment so they can build cohesion with children, Ray said.

Because children are revealing emotional and powerful information maintaining a relationship with a volunteer throughout the program builds safety and trust.

“I would want to help out because I have a younger brother and I know what it feels like to help someone younger than me that is more vulnerable,” said Albazi.

The centre also holds fundraising events throughout the year.

In April there is a bunny raffle and each September there is a half-marathon where people can make pledges and donations, and students can do a third-party fundraiser within their schools.

“Numbers are absolutely growing. Although we have families who transition in and out, our groups usually are always full,” said Ray.

For more information visit or to volunteer email