Mary’s Place hosts its first Memory Walk

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Tue., May. 7, 2013
About 200 people gathered to walk in memory of a friend or loved one. This is the first Memory Walk held to benefit Mary’s Place. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
About 200 people gathered to walk in memory of a friend or loved one. This is the first Memory Walk held to benefit Mary’s Place. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

When someone close to you dies, it is not always easy to figure out how to move on. Thanks to the efforts of Mary’s Place in Windsor, children and families have a place where they can go to process and talk about their lost loved one, and attempt to make sense of the loss while they are surrounded by a supportive group of people.

Mary’s Place offers grief support groups for children, adults, teens and widows and widowers. Started by Mary Keane, an oncology nurse-clinician, the whole organization began as a widow and widower support group, which later added a children’s support group. By 1996, it was officially established in Windsor and has been offering services, free of charge, ever since.

Annually, the organization hosts a gala and a wine-tasting to raise funds in order to support the groups programs. But some time last year, Miranda Fitzpatrick, age 15, daughter of a Mary’s Place board member, came to her mom and lamented that there were no opportunities for children to participate in supporting the mission of the group.

“Kids can’t play a part with either one of those events,” said Fitzpatrick. “So, I presented the idea of a Memory Walk to the board.” After receiving a very favorable response, she began taking action. “I came up with a committee of kids ages 11 to 16,” she said. After months of planning, the first ever Mary’s Place Memory Walk took place on May 5.

Just before the event, many people were warming up, listening to music and preparing for the walk itself, while newcomers registered and placed a sign on the walk with the name of a loved one. “Each sign is somebody that you’re honoring,” said Fitzpatrick. She grew emotional as she explained that she was walking for her own grandfather, who had passed away in 2004. In fact, both of her grandfathers passed away within 24 hours of each other. “I was in fourth grade,” she said. “Our family’s been through a lot of tragedy,” she said.

Fitzpatrick acknowledges herself that if it weren’t for Mary’s Place, her life may not look the way it does now. When she was just 8 weeks old, her father died on the job. Her mother, Irene, connected with Mary’s Place and its support groups and received the assistance she needed to manage what had happened to her and her young family, and to move on.

“This event is to raise awareness of Mary’s Place,” said Fitzpatrick. “Even if you don’t know someone who has died, they can at least throw out the name: Mary’s Place.”

As the walk began, some approached it with a party mood, dancing their way through the walk. Others were quieter and perhaps even somber as they walked past the signed marked with all the names of people who were being remembered.

“It’s a great thing to bring the adults and the kids together,” said Mary’s Place Executive Director Lisa Peluso. “Mary’s Place is a family,” she said. “We spend a lot of time remembering those who have died. There’s a great comfort in remembering.”

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