Erin’s House Common Bond raises $70,000, ‘The Wing’ teen clubhouse announced
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - The annual Common Bond Breakfast to benefit Erin’s House for Grieving Children in Fort Wayne raised $70,000. Leaders also took the opportunity to introduce the capital campaign for funding a planned teen clubhouse that will sit on the current Erin’s House property. Here is a copy of the news release sent by organization officials.
Common Bond Event Raises $70,000 and Announces ‘The WING – A Place for Erin’s House Young Adults’
Erin’s House Growing to Support Area Need
[May 18, 2023] FORT WAYNE, IN – Yesterday at the Erin’s House Common Bond Breakfast, keynote speaker, Mina Starsiak Hawk, shared her reality television story and voiced her own personal grief journey to the 450 in attendance at the Mirro Center. With all her relatable stories, Mina brought the same energy and enthusiasm for the cause that she portrays on her renovation show. Mina mentioned her kids and their upbringing around spirituality where she ended the subject with, “I’m not comparing Heaven to Erin’s House, but you guys are close.” The final raised amount from the event was over $70,000, with last-minute donations still rolling in today. Additionally, Erin’s House announced their capital campaign project, The WING.
With families, there comes a time when you outgrow your house and simply need more room to do what you do – be a family. This is the case with Erin’s House for Grieving Children families.
In 2019, Erin’s House was selected as a recipient of the WOWO Penny Pitch funds. This started the plan to build a “teen-young adult house” for the organization, which will be called The WING. The project was put on hold due to COVID-19 constraints. At the Common Bond event, the organization announced the “kick-off” of the capital campaign for The WING.
“We are still in the planning stages, but it is very apparent that the teens and young adults have outgrown our space here. Our current facility off St. Joe Center Road has served us well since moving here in 2013, but we are bursting at the seams. Any given program night brings together over 100 grieving children, families, and trained volunteers,” stated Debbie Meyer, Executive Director of Erin’s House for Grieving Children. “The WING is so special because it will provide us with an additional 4,500 sq. ft. specifically designed for teens and young adults. A place that they can call their own.”
To date, Erin’s House has raised over $400,000 for this project and will need an additional $1.4 million to complete The WING. “The WING will be adjacent to Erin’s House, literally in our backyard, increasing our program space by 29%,” stated Meyer. There will be three counseling rooms, a large program “hang-out” space, and a “quiet room.”
Building Committee Chair, Chris Gomez, stated, “This project is so important for the mental health of our young adults in our community. One in eight children/young adults will be grieving the death of a sibling or parent in 2023--that’s 316,000 in Northeast Indiana.”
We asked some of our current Erin’s House teens what their dream is for the new addition to Erin’s House. Mayah, age 15, is so thrilled to just have, “A designated space to chill out.” Piper, age 17, didn’t skip a beat and answered with, “An ice cream machine, and also a soda machine. [I would like] any machine that you can have fun with and make a mess because that’s what teenagers do.
This year, the organization celebrated 30 years of success and being a crucial community resource, having served approximately 35,000 individuals since 1993. “The need continues to grow. That is evident,” states Meyer. Over the past three years, the utilization of Erin’s House services, including on-site peer support, the IDENTITY program, crisis response, in-school programming, phone support and three specialized camps, has doubled to serve over 2,400 individuals each year. Compared to 1,200 individuals annually 11 years ago, Erin’s House is evidently growing at a rapid rate.
“Erin’s House is blessed to call Fort Wayne home. None of this would have been possible without the support of the entire community in Northeast Indiana. And in the words of one of our Erin’s House children, it truly will continue to be ‘the happiest place to be sad’.” Stated Meyer.
Erin’s House anticipates The WING to be complete in late spring 2024. Over the next year, there will be opportunities for the community to support the Erin’s House capital campaign project. MSKTD is designing the building and has produced renderings of the project.
About Erin’s House for Grieving Children
At Erin’s House, we know that grief can cause children and teens to feel isolated and different from their peers. We provide them with a safe space that promotes a sense of belonging and encourages healing.
For 30 years, Erin’s House for Grieving Children has delivered programs to help support grieving youth in our regional community. To date, the organization has served more than 30,000 individuals throughout Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. All Erin’s House services are offered at no cost to families. Together, we can build hope and heal hearts. Learn more at ErinsHouse.org.
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