Bryce Barros, a Jeff’s Place group participant was our guest speaker at the Second Annual House Party Celebration & Fundraiser. Bryce spoke eloquently and courageously about the importance of having an organization like Jeff’s Place, and how he was forced to grow up following the death of his mother. Below is his speech:
“This is my fifth year at Jeff’s Place and my mother died from colon cancer when I was eleven years old. My mom was a very energetic and happy person. She loved me a lot, but I also got on her nerves a lot.
She loved her family and friends. She would force me to go to places that I didn’t want to go to and make me do things I didn’t want to do. She was the life of the party and I remember her always singing her favorite song while using the kitchen spoon as the microphone.
She was also a very artistic person that could paint very well. She could paint houses, trees and rivers. I can’t draw a stick figure- even if my life depended on it!
She would bring me to the park to play football and basketball and sometimes she would win and I would get mad, so she’d take me out to get ice cream. I will never forget the memories we shared together when I was younger.
When she passed away, a part of me passed away also. I wasn’t the same person as I was before when I was catching the ball or shooting it into the hoop. When I first heard of Jeff’s Place and met the people there, I was very shy and quiet. The first year was rough because I was not comfortable yet sharing my story to people I had never met. My second year, I made new friends and started to open up to the people around me. Since then, I have felt more comfortable and have more confidence telling people my story. Jeff’s Place is the reason why I can talk to people about what has happened in my life. I am more empathetic when people want to talk to me about their loss. I am more open with my feelings and with others when I was before. Jeff’s Place helped me understand my grief and taught me how to show my feelings in different, but fun, enjoyable ways. If it wasn’t for Jeff’s Place, I would not be the same person I am today… and I think it is the best thing that has happened in my life.”
Thank you to Bryce for sharing your story. With Bryce, hope grows here at Jeff’s Place!
Julie Batt and her sons have been attending our peer-based support group at Jeff’s Place for three years. Julie is no stranger to loss. Her first experience with death was that of her beautiful 15-month-old daughter, Ashley, nearly nineteen years ago from leukemia. Most recently, in the fall of 2011, Julie’s husband, David, died suddenly. Both events changed her, but with three sons, the loss of their dad was devastating. David and Julie were high school sweethearts and best friends. Julie misses her husband – “being there and just knowing that you had someone by your side.” Julie described how David would take care of all of the little things, which is why she did not anticipate all of the changes that come with being the sole provider. She found strengths she never knew she had to raise three boys on her own, reminding herself to “get up and get out of bed, live for them, and go on for them.” She also accepted the new reality of learning to ask for help when she needed it.
Every loss is difficult, but having a strong support system can make all the difference. Through Jeff’s Place she found that support. She says “it is comforting to talk with people who know what you’re going through.” She has benefited tremendously from the other participants’ friendship, both in group and outside. Jeff’s Place not only supported her journey, but that of her sons, remarking how attending group has helped her sons talk through their emotions and connect better with others.
Life with three boys is busy – between track, baseball, Eagle Scouts – but through it all, the Batt’s continue to honor David, maintain the traditions as a family, talk about him, and carry out his legacy.