Valerie’s House, the first and only grief support program in Southwest Florida focused solely on helping children grieve, has launched a program to help young adults work through their grief following the death of parent, sibling or friend. The program is a result of recent studies that show 1 in 3 college students have experienced the death of a family member or close friend within the last 12 months, according to 2018 research.
Valerie’s House Founder and CEO Angela Melvin says she is not surprised with the statistics as it was when she was 18 years old and a freshman at the University of Florida, that she began to openly grieve the loss of her mother Valerie, who died when she was 10 years old and who the organization is named after.
“I remember being in my dorm and my roommate talking on the phone with her mother every day,” Melvin said. “It was in those moments that I felt more grief than I had ever felt before. We hope that by starting something specifically for the young adults in our community, they will realize they are not alone and it can help them not only in their healing today, but in their futures.”
The Young Adult Grief Support Group is geared toward 18 to 25-year-olds and will meet at Valerie’s House- Fort Myers, 1762 Fowler Street in Fort Myers from 6:00pm – 8:00pm on the 1st Monday of each month. Valerie’s House Program Coordinator Ally O’Brien, who has been working with Valerie’s House since she was an intern at Florida Gulf Coast University four years ago, will lead the group. Having lost her father at 16 years old, O’Brien says she understands the challenges of navigating young adulthood without a key supporter in her life.
“We are on our own and trying to figure things out,” O’Brien said. “My hope with this group is that we can support and relate to one another.”
To learn more about the program or sign up, visit www.valerieshouseswfl.org/young-adult-program.