Coping with the death of a loved one is a hard thing to deal with at any age, but for children, a circumstance like the death of a sibling, parent or loved one can present a completely different set of emotional challenges.
In 1991, Ele’s Place was established and named in honor of Ele Stover, who died in 1989 at the age of 11 months. Since its inception, Ele’s Place has dedicated itself to helping children and their families heal by embracing the grieving process after the death of a loved one.
On Thursday Sept. 29, Ele’s Place celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting its fall reception at Ele’s Place, located at 1145 W. Oakland Ave. in Lansing. Hor d’oeuvres, music, a silent auction
and mingling welcomed guests and friends of the nonprofit.
The speaking program was emceed by Mick Story, vice president of corporate development in Jackson and an Ele’s Place Lansing Community Board Chair. The Lansing Director of Programming, Patricia Gundrum, thanked many of the volunteers and staff including Kelly Koerner, associate program director at the Lansing location, in recognition of her outstanding work for the organization.
“She’s kind, compassionate and the backbone of this organization,” said Gundrum.
Kate Powers, managing director of Ele’s Place Lansing, also acknowledged the staff of
“I’m forever grateful to our staff for the work they do and buying into what we do here,” said Powers. “It’s a team effort.”
The presence of the guests of honor — the Stover family — made the night particularly special. Ele’s siblings, Beckley, Hallie, Upton and Bo’s wife, spoke on behalf of the organization, what it did for them and how it’s impacted their lives.
“In our support groups, we went around the circle and talked about our loved one or family member that died,” Hallie Stover said, speaking of her experience at Ele’s Place. “I said that my sister had died and her name was Ele. I remember afterward, another child coming up to me and asking, ‘is your Ele, the Ele?’ I told him yes and he just gave me a big hug.”
Each of the Stover siblings took a turn talking about their experience with their sister’s death and the impact Ele’s place has made on their lives. Each sibling agreed that it brings them great joy to know that their sister’s legacy can live on to help other grieving children in need.
Ele’s Place now has four locations; Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Flint and has provided support for more than 25,000 grieving individuals. For more information, visit elesplace.org.