For the past three years, the Baptist Health Services Group Service First Committee has barbecued to raise funds for the Kemmons Wilson Center for Good Grief. Actually, Memphis in May Barbecue Fest winner Howlin Hogs has done the barbecuing.
“They’ve been so generous to us,” said Brionne Beckman, senior specialist of administrative services for Baptist Health Services Group. “They cook the barbecue and get it ready, and they do a taste test so people can try the barbecue beforehand.”
The BHSG team takes orders a few weeks before the Fourth of July and then delivers hot orders of barbecued meat to Baptist colleagues before the holiday. BHSG most recently raised $1,278, which was enough to send one child to camp. During the past three years, BHSG has raised enough to send three children to camp.
Beckman had the opportunity to visit the camp several years ago, and she was moved by the number of children who needed grief counseling.
“It was very overwhelming just to see all the kids there—there were lots of kids and to know that each of them has lost a loved one in recent years and to know the pain they’ve dealt with,” said Beckman. “And it was encouraging to know that my community and employer, Baptist, were there to offer assistance during that difficult time. It makes you proud to be on the Baptist team and offering up a service that others don’t provide.”
Forty children attended this year’s camp at the For The Kingdom campsite July 22–24. Camp provides children an enjoyable, accepting and supportive environment to freely express their feelings about the death of a loved one. Through art, music, drama and support groups, campers explore their grief.
“We—the Service First Committee—were able to go to camp and see the kids involved in action for an afternoon,” said Beckman. “That was an awesome experience to see their interaction with each other and with the staff there. Nancy Averwater and Zach Chandler were participating in a water game with the kids, and it was really awesome to see senior leadership involved with the kids and their lives in that way.”
While camp includes periods of fun and games, it is designed to help attendees express their grief in a healthy and productive way.
“I believe Camp Good Grief is important to support because it’s hard to lose a loved one,” said Beckman. “When a child loses a loved one, it can be even more difficult for a child to experience and understand. The Kemmons Wilson Center for Good Grief can help children understand and decipher those feelings … It’s a service we offer to the community free of cost thanks to donations to the Foundation.”
Twenty-three Baptist colleagues volunteered at this summer’s camp.
You can help support Camp Good Grief too by making a contribution to the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation’s Above and Beyond Campaign. If you haven’t received a form, please call the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation at 901-227-7123 or 800- 895-4483. You also can contribute to the Camp Good Grief 5k and Bike Safety Parade, which will be held on Sunday, October 6 at 2 p.m. For more information about the 5k and parade, please visit http://campgoodgrief5k.racesonline.com.