Jump directly to the content
A MASH Unit for Grief: A Support Center Reaches the 'Incoming Wounded' of Long Beach

A MASH Unit for Grief: A Support Center Reaches the 'Incoming Wounded' of Long Beach

Nurse Susan Beeney estimates that each year, 40,000 of her neighbors are facing profound loss. What her nonprofit is doing to heal their wounds.

In 2010, Felix Sandoval was stabbed to death in front of his young siblings. The 7-year-old had been trying to protect his mother from her boyfriend's alcohol-induced rage. In the wake of Sandoval's death, authorities from his school in Long Beach, California, turned to New Hope Grief Support Community, a local nonprofit launched by nurse Susan Beeney in 1999.

"The principal called us and said, 'The winds of grief are blowing over us. We need your help,' " Beeney recalls. For the next two months, New Hope staff spent an hour each week in Felix's classroom, using art therapy with the first graders to help them process their distress.

The invitation is common for New Hope staff, who get asked into several schools each year by the Long Beach Unified School District. Sometimes the invitation comes on the heels of a community tragedy. Other times New Hope is asked to serve students facing family loss. "Our stories are not easy to handle," Beeney says. "We've come alongside youth who've seen their parents die violently. We've helped a 16-year-old who had to make the decision to take his mom off life support because there were no older relatives to step in."

Currently the nonprofit is running a grief group with junior high students at Franklin Classical Middle School—their second grief group this year. Franklin counselor Terri Phelps says the groups have helped "with so many issues" among grieving students, including behavior and attendance. She's thankful to have New Hope's assistance when it comes to students like Kara.* The seventh grader lost her older brother to suicide; two weeks later, her father was killed in a car accident. "There are an awful lot of students in need of grief counseling," Phelps says.

Beeney's passion to help those in mourning stems from her own familiarity with loss. Shortly after her father died when she was 18, she lost both her childhood best friend and her sister-in-law to cancer. Busy with nursing school at the time, Beeney admits she tried stuffing the pain. Her career path then led her further into the thickets of grief: after graduating, she became a hospice nurse with the local VA hospital. The accumulated sorrows caught up with her in the mid-1980s.

123  

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

When I learned that kids in my city couldn't swim, I started to rethink how much I'd invested in overseas missions.
Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

For Harrison Higgins, building beautiful furniture is not simply a steady job but a sacrament unto God.
Faith in a Fallen Empire

Faith in a Fallen Empire

Detroit's list of maladies is long. But some Christians' commitment to its renewal is longer.
'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Ann

July 09, 2012  7:41pm

Janet, you do it with a browser command. It depends on what kind of browser you have. For example, do you use IE, or Chrome or Safari or Firefox? most of them have a command or menu option or icon for tools, then look for internet options, and then enter the address of the web page in the blank that says 'home page'. Each browser is slightly different for how the command is.

Janet

July 09, 2012  10:52am

I would like to make Christianity today my home page, but don't see anything to click on regarding that. Is there a way?

SUPPORT THIS IS OUR CITY

Make a contribution to help support the This Is Our City project and the nonprofit ministry Christianity Today.Learn more ...