My Heart is Filled with Joy

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My Heart is Filled with Joy

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My father Romeo died when I was almost four years old.  He was very close to me and my two sisters.  shirley with campersAfter his death, I never really shared my feelings so I spent my childhood using art expression as a means to navigate and heal my grief.  To honor his life, I lived in his footsteps by following his career path and learning about his passions.

As an adult, I knew I wanted to volunteer at a place to help other kids through their grief process.  In 2014, I discovered Kara and Camp Erin.  Selfishly, my inner child yearned to go to a grief camp but my adult self wanted to serve other kids to help them know that they would be okay.  After experiencing Kara’s grief counselor training program I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

Camp Erin is a beautiful healing space filled with compassion, empathy & love. Kids are given the freedom to normalize their emotions and reminded that they aren’t alone on their healing journey.

chalk_RomeoWebBesides the therapy dogs, art, and delicious food, my favorite part of camp is the candlelight ceremony.  On our last evening together, campers and counselors are invited to share a special memory of the person who died.  For the past three years I always take a minute to look up at the star-filled sky.  In this moment, I’m filled with gratitude from the vulnerability and resilience everyone around me has embraced.  I imagine all of the stars shining brighter with each name that is shared.  In this safe and beautiful space, we are all present for each other and my heart is filled with joy.

I look forward to serving again next year!

Mahalo,

Shirley Manan