Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Word from Jacqui Brown, Program Coordinator

The snow and cold winds did eventually arrive in Kansas, as we knew they would! Please be careful on the slick icy roads as you travel from work, school, holiday shopping...

January is just around the corner and I am getting ready for the weekend training for new volunteer facilitators for Three Trees. We do not yet know where this training will be held but I do know that we are ready to welcome you!

This next initial facilitator training is on January 10th and 11th. It is a very important weekend where you will join others and start to tread the sacred ground of companioning grieving children and their caregivers.

If you have spoken to any of the staff at Three Trees about becoming a facilitator and you have not heard from us please call. There are some administrative hoops to jump through and a preliminary interview with me before you are enrolled.

Georgia Ahern and I are looking forward to training you. You will become part of the heart of Three Trees; a dedicated group of volunteer facilitators who are excited to mentor you through your first Ggoups. Your journey with us will be life changing.

"Each time we meet a new bereaved child, we tend to rethink the whys of human existence and, ever so slightly, amend our life philosophy so that it incorporates what we learn from this child." ~ Alan D. Wolfelt, PH.D.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A few photos...

January Groups?: 12/7

Yes, in spite of everything, we are planning on conducting the groups starting in January. In November, Renee Cristiano, our former program coordinator, made the initial contact with families leaving messages. (Thanks Renee!) Jacqui then met with families and scheduled them in groups. She reports she has several families signed up for the Tuesday group starting 1/13 and a couple for the Thursday group starting 1/22.

As of yet, we have not confirmed the location for these groups. We are in the process of determining that now and hope to have a location determined within the next week or so. Check back for the update!

Thursday Group & Project Linus: 12/4

As the winter refuses to ripen we are glad of the continued warm days because we know they will not last. Three Trees continues to hold Groups at Eastminster Church which continues to make us welcome, but like the inevitability of warm days disappearing, our 2008 Groups at Eastminster are coming to an end.

With the end of each Group night, goodbyes are said in very many ways.

At the Thursday Group last week we gave each family a very special handmade blanket. These blankets are made by our local Project Linus organization which makes blankets specifically to comfort children. Each blanket they make for Three Trees has knots tied around the edges and as the fingers tie the knots a good wish, thought or a prayer is said for the family who will receive the blanket.

We said goodbye to one of our incredible teens on Thursday because he is traveling to be reunited with a family member in a different town. As he took his Linus blanket with him we told him to remember all our love and hope go with him and that the blanket will always be his piece of Three Trees and a reminder of how valuable he is. His story has been added to ours and he is forever a precious part of Three Trees.

Thank you Project Linus for being such an integral part of our mission. Your blanket makers will never fully know what a blessing they are! ~ Jacqui

Gift Registries Established: 12/1

To make it simpler to let you know our current in-kind needs and to allow us to track purchases, we've set up gift registries at both Target and Wal-Mart. Both registries can be accessed in the store or on-line. Of course, gift cards to Office Depot, Office Max, Hobby Lobby or Michael's would also be greated appreciated.

The Target registry is set up as an organization wish list. To access, select "Wish List" and then key in "Three Trees" as the organization name. The WalMart registry is also set up as a "Wish List." To access this registry key in "Three" as the first name and "Trees" as the last name.

Building 800: 11/18-25

On November 18, our insurance company released the Three Trees site so salvagable items and debris removal could begin. They officially concluded their investigation of the physical site however their statement as to the cause of the fire has not been released.

Service Master was hired to restore whatever items we wanted to take and to remove all the debris. Katie, Georgia, Jacqui, David and Jeri were all involved in determining salvagable items. Not much was removed due to smoke damage. Some items we took include craft items in sealed containers, a few pieces of furniture, some of the ceramic hearts on the mosaic, some books, We also took a few original painting in the hopes they can be restored.

All items were removed prior to Monday 11/24, the day Service Master came in to start their work. Amazingly enough, all burned, smokey, ruined items were removed in only 1 1/2 days. The last time I visited the office was the day before Thanksgiving. If I didn't know better, I would never have believed what it looked like before. What I saw was a burned out and empty shell. Sad as it was to see, I felt like a chapter of the fire was closing and now it was time to focus on the future.

Committee Working on Site Location: 11/17

The Three Trees Board appointed a volunteer committee to research options and make recommendations as to where our new office should be: the current 800 building or another location. This committee is led by Jerry Jones (board member) and others on the committee are Patrick Ahearn, Allan Dunne, Jim Hattan, Ross Way and Wendy Prue. The committee met on Monday 11/24 and have been working individually since that time. They will meet again prior to the board meeting on 12/17, at which time they hope to give a preliminary recommendation to the Board.

Independent Fire Investigation: 11/14

Our insurance company made the decision to hire an independent fire "cause & origin" expert. This is primarily because of two factors: 1) the preliminary ruling from the Wichita Fire Dpt that the fire's cause was 'accidental due to a probably candle' and; 2) the possibility of subrogation from other insurance companies. On Friday, 11/14 David Wheeler (our board president) spent several hours at the office with this expert. David reported it was very interesting and the "this guy definitely knows his stuff." He looked at, took photo’s of, and even smelled parts of the office where the fire started. Based upon his investigation, he believes he knows what caused the fire rather than going with a probably theory. It will be interesting to learn what his actual report reveals.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Message from Jacqui Brown

Since the fire at Three Trees we have held two group nights at Eastminster Presbyterian Church which has graciously opened its doors to our families and facilitators. Their lovely parlor room is where we gather together before and after each group. Thursday night was the first meeting for group #69 and I wanted to use the Story of the Three Trees for the closing piece.

Jeri and I knew where the Three Trees story books were likely to be in our burnt building and the afternoon of group we rescued the copy from the fireplace in Jeri’s office. It needed to be carefully cleaned of smoke and soot damage and last night the families could smell the smoke on the Three Trees book. The parlor room was very quiet as I read the story and showed the pictures of the three little trees to the gathered caregivers, facilitators and children.

The significance of the fire damaged book still able to be read, and the hope in the story, was not lost on anyone last night. Children, who a few minutes before were excited and bouncy, sat still and quiet as mice through the whole story. There were tears on the faces of some of the adults. Family and facilitators had their own private thoughts, but all were held for a moment by the power of hope and one little story and the significance of our very own Three Trees.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday, November 7

One Week Can Really Make a Difference

Last Friday many woke up to learn about the fire at Three Trees. That seems like so long ago, yet in some ways it’s like yesterday. A lot has changed since then thanks to the outpouring of support and prayers of so many people. To you, we say thank you.

On Thursday, we prepared to actually start a new group with eleven families. When we arrived at the office the manuals we give to each family were ready and waiting. Thanks to Liz, our wonderful office volunteer, we were ready to start a new group. And, thanks to Liz’s daughter Colleen and her dance team friends, we have materials ready for our lunch next week.

Eddie, our computer guy, set up our new computer (and free printer.) He still has some work to do, but boy it sure was nice to get into our electronic records. Soon all three of us (Jeri, Jacqui and Wendy) will have access to our Three Trees email. That will be a happy day!

Today we also made contact with Mark Stump of United Way’s GIV program. (If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a warehouse full of donations from area businesses of items they no longer need that non-profits can have. Typical items include tables, chairs, office supplies, file cabinets, house ware type items, etc. ) They have some item we might be able to use as we rebuild and hopefully they’ll receive more things we can use in the coming weeks. Right now we have selected a couple nice wooden desks, a wooden credenza, two wooden tables, a couple file cabinets and some desk chairs. Thanks to Mark for being so understanding and helpful.

As of yet, the 800 building is still closed to the other tenants. Brian, the owner, informs me that after more inspections he’s had to remove all the insulation in the ceiling and replace all the ceiling tiles. He also learned the building must be inspected by a structural engineer and the electricity hasn’t been turned on yet either. Three Trees is waiting on estimates from contractors specializing in fire cleaning. Hopefully we’ll have those soon.

Please continue forwarding these updates to those you know are interested. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today (11/5) things came together even more. Jacqui, Wendy and I met at our new office and got updated. Wendy will be setting up our desk and organizing us so we are prepared to do business. Wendy and Jeri both worked some on the lunch event we have next week. Jacqui even met with two families who had scheduled their appointments before the fire. It was good to do a few things that felt normal.

Helen surprised us by stopping by with a donation of office supplies from WSU’s psychology clinic/dept. She plans on coming back with a few more things we need. We also recorded donations from Sara-Mom and Harry Hynes Hospice. They donated supplies for our groups. Of course, we had to make a trip back to the office to post a sign letting people know the location of our temporary office (Dunne Equities, Building 1100) and retrieve a few items.

Progress was made on the insurance front too. Companies were contacted about providing estimates for clean-up (restoration and debris removal.) This is the first step in the process, so I guess you could say we are on our way!

We continue to get phone calls, mail and email. Thank you to the many people who are providing this support. It’s needed and appreciated. If you’d like to help in our efforts, let us know 263-3335 or threetrees@threetrees.org. Donations are being accepted at any Intrust bank locations, too.

You can also share comments on the blog, which is a great way to communicate with us and also others who care about this wonderful agency. I hope to post photo’s there by the end of the week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yesterday (Tuesday 11/4) marked an important event – we held our first group in only five days after the fire. Thanks to the wonderful people at Eastminister Presbyterian Church and Three Trees volunteers for making this happen. Volunteers found the space and then more volunteers provided most of the supplies.

Jacqui, our program coordinator, and her facilitators report it was a good night. Families had a chance to talk about the fire and continue on their own healing path. Board president David Wheeler was there too, sharing a brief message of hope for the future and providing information about the fire. He will be at the Thursday night and Saturday morning group too.

We also met with our insurance adjuster so the process of rebuilding has officially begun! There will be a lot of work to do in the coming days, weeks and months. Work that will require the help of many volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at threetrees@threetrees.org or call the 263-3335 and leave a message.

Yes, our phone is now working to some degree. Incoming calls are going to a voice mailbox from which we are retrieving messages. Have patience if you leave a message as we will call you back.

Thanks to our friends at Dunne Equities we now some temporary office space for administrative use. Dunne Equities is just two building west of our office. Mail is just being forwarded there, too. They are making us feel right at home.

We also purchased a couple new computers and they are now being configured for us. We also had the software we’ll need on our computers donated.

. We want you to know what’s going on and to what extent you can, feel part of our rebuilding efforts. Because of this we plan to provide updates on this blo so please visit it, bookmark it and then share the site with your friends. www.threetreeswichita.blogspot.com

Thanks in advance for checking ths blog out. Please let me know what you think. We’ll post a few photo’s in the coming days.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update from Jeri Biehler 11-04-08

On Thursday evening, October 30th there was a fire at Three Trees. The good news is no one was in the building at the time. There was considerable damage to our office, while the other three businesses in the building suffered only minor smoke damage. The fire started in the northeast corner room (aka the program coordinator's office and the "Winter Lodge" room.)

The fire investigators have ruled the cause of the fire "an accident caused by a probable candle." Their investigation discovered the following...
On Monday evening a candle was used in the Winter Lodge room. It was extinguished, but because of several factors as explained by the investigators, it re-ignited or was not fully extinguished. The candle was located on the left side of the wooden fireplace mantel, which sat on top of the fake, decorative fireplace which was also wooden. Children's art in progress (masks, memory boxes) were on the mantel too, as was a plastic lap desk attached to a pillow. The pillow contained those tiny little polystyrene beads, which are highly flammable. This fueled the fire.
The back office and the kitchen area are a total loss - in other words, charcoal black. The rest of the office sustained considerable smoke and heat damage with the worst being in the back where the fire started. Many things, especially in the back, are melted beyond recognition. Most everything will not be salvageable. Our paper files for the most part are okay...just smoky and soot covered. The electronic files have pretty much been restored. The building itself is structurally okay, but because the electrical and heating/cooling systems for the entire building originate in our office much restoration must occur before the electricity can even be turned on. With luck this will happen by Wednesday for everyone except us.

As communicated before, continuing groups is our first priority. After gathering input and looking at various resources, it was decided to continue offering current groups without a lag in service. Our first group will be Tuesday 11/4, followed by a new group starting on Thursday and then one Saturday morning. The groups will be held at Eastminister Presbyterian Church of Webb Road. We are also in the process of setting up a small administrative office. Information about that will be shared when finalized. Paper files will soon be removed and possibly a few mementos (i.e. the quilts, the large mosaic panel, etc.) if they can be salvaged.

In the coming weeks we will need a lot of help to provide services to our kiddos and for various other projects due to the fire. We will communicate regularly about such opportunities. If you know you have time to help, please let me know. We have started a list of “helpers” and will draw from it as needed.

In the meantime, please be assured of our commitment to our mission, our children and families, and to you. And, while this may seem devastating now, keep in mind fires happen in the forest. And damaged trees grow back stronger and more beautiful than before. Three Trees is well-established. Our “trees” were planted years ago and we now have deep roots. We are still here, and even though a bit overwhelmed, we are still focused and determined to fulfill our mission of “providing a safe and comforting environment to grieving children and their families.”
Thank you in advance for your support and prayers. I’ll be in touch again soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to our blog!

Three Trees is a non-profit, non-affiliated organization providing support and a comforting environment for grieving children and their families. We are the only grieving center for children and their families in South Central Kansas. Our goals are simple: to help children and their families through the stages of grieving and develop coping skills and to provide education on bereavement and the grief process. It is our hope that at Three Trees children who have found their own dreams destroyed by the death of a loved one will find ways to cope and to heal. We also hope that in time our children will find new dreams to fulfill. For further information about Three Trees please call us at 316-263-3335.

by jorn
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