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As sent to the Sonoma Index-Tribune, March 3, 2015

by John Meislahn, Board President, Social Advocates for Youth

"Social Advocates for Youth would like to clarify our role in regards to continuing the grief counseling services currently offered by the WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center.  SAY's commitment to sustaining WillMar programs as part of our services to the youth of Sonoma County is a long term commitment.  We plan to not only continue offering WillMar services in Sonoma Valley but also to expand those services to other parts of the County.  As set out in Jason Walsh's editorial on March 3, 2015, our ability to financially sustain the services under the SAY umbrella will depend, in part, on the continued support of the WillMar community in Sonoma Valley.  Long term sustainability will require broadening that support both in Sonoma Valley and Sonoma County.  We are pleased that the WillMar services previously set to end on March 18th will now continue through the end of the 2014-2015 school year in May.  Between now and then SAY will be working on a strategy to continue to provide services to the grieving children in Sonoma Valley and other parts of the county."


Social Advocates for Youth and WillMar Center planning to sustain grief counseling services in Sonoma Valley

Santa Rosa, CA – February 26, 2015 – Earlier this month, the WillMar Family Grief & Healing Center announced their upcoming closure. When Social Advocates for Youth learned of the impending closure, SAY leaders reached out to WillMar to see how SAY could help preserve WillMar’s services. We are pleased to announce that under SAY's leadership WillMar services for grieving children will continue uninterrupted in Sonoma.

The mission of the WillMar Center to support grieving families is directly aligned with SAY’s counseling programs. SAY therapists frequently identify grief, trauma and loss as critical factors impacting the wellbeing of youth. With this agreement between the organizations, WillMar Center's vital grief support groups will continue as scheduled, while SAY continues their conversation about how to best sustain these programs for the long-term.

SAY is committed to continuing the grief services offered at WillMar Center, and hopes that with the support of the WillMar community in the Sonoma Valley, we will preserve and expand this program to continue helping children and families heal.


About Social Advocates for Youth
Social Advocates for Youth is a non-profit agency providing support, opportunities and hope to children, youth and families. Founded in 1971, SAY provides a variety of services including free and low-cost counseling, job training, educational support, emergency, transitional housing and youth employment, family therapy, bilingual family advocacy, and other prevention programs to former foster children and children ages 5-24. SAY operates the Dr. Coffee Teen Shelter, Sonoma County's only 24/7 teen shelter, and the Mary and Jose Tamayo Village, a transitional housing program for former foster youth and homeless young adults.


About WillMar Family Grief & Healing Center

Founded in 2000 by marriage family therapist Nina Gorbach, WillMar Family Grief & Healing Center is the only stand-alone nonprofit agency in Northern California dedicated to providing free support to grieving families. WillMar Center uses group peer support and expressive arts for children, teens, and adults healing after a death or the trauma of living with a family member with a life-altering illness.


WillMar Family Grief & Healing Center · · 707 935-1946
 PO Box 1374, Sonoma, CA 95476 · Tax ID# 94-3368889

Copyright © 2014 WillMar Family Grief & Healing Center, All Rights Reserved