Kath McCormack, the founding director, envisioned The Healing Center in 1989 when her husband Rick Deggelman died suddenly at the age of 33. Her children, Ricky and Barbara, were 3 and 5 at the time. She knew that she and her children needed a tremendous amount of support, and she pictured a place where her children and she could go and be comforted and supported; a place they could return to again and again as they learned how to live their new life; a place where grief was welcomed and shared. She began to picture a big old house with a fireplace, a pot of tea, candles, warmth: a place where people could share comfort, friendship, laughter, and tears. She and her children attended support groups in Tiburon at The Center for Attitudinal Healing. She felt that those groups and the counselor she saw at the time saved her life.
Two years later, she and her family moved from the Bay Area to Seattle. She met three other people who had been widowed young; Joel Junker, Katie Evans, and Barbara Hendricks. Together, they started support groups, officially known as Widowed Young Persons Support.
Kath continued to envision an actual place where families could come to get support. During this time she was working at Group Health Hospice as the bereavement coordinator. It was there that she met Jill Jacox Tan, who was interested in her vision. Finally, she had met someone of like mind, who pictured a place where people could come, get support and meet others who were going through similar struggles. Jill had a great deal of experience with children and grief. She served for a number of years as our Children’s Program Coordinator, and is currently a member of our Advisory Board.
In September of 2000 The Healing Center became a non-profit organization with 501 c 3 status. The dream had been realized. For five years, The Healing Center offered programs for adults, children and families in rented and donated space at several locations as the programs grew. In August of 2005, Ann Sparling White joined our staff. Ann had many years of experience working with bereaved individuals, children and families, and heads our school outreach program.
In December of 2005, The Healing Center was able to rent a home in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. At long last, all of our programs were under one roof.
The Healing Center’s goal is to support children, adults, and families as they come to terms with the death of a loved one. We offer a variety of services and a community of people. This is a place where bereaved people, adults, and children alike can stop for a little while, rest, be comforted, meet others who understand, and begin to move through their grief so that, ultimately, they can begin to make peace with death and rebuild their lives. The long-term goal is that each person will come to a place of peace and will find new meaning as they reinvest in life. We are a community of people who support each other.