Wendt Center Today
Dear friends,

The heart of the Wendt Center never really changes. We deepen our mission, expand our staff, design our programs with ever greater intentionality, and serve more people—but our resolve remains strong and firm to rekindle hope and rebuild lives in the greater Washington area for those who have known grief and trauma.

Healing has always been at the core of what we do and who we are. Whether it’s during therapy in our clinical offices, in DC public and charter schools, amid the natural beauty of Camp Forget-Me-Not, or any number of our other service locations, we hold space for the anguish of the children, adults, and families we serve and we walk with them on their journey towards renewed hope, meaning, and joy.
Not only can you find profound compassion and warmth at the Wendt Center, but also deep expertise. We are the experts on grief and trauma in the region. We invest in the continuing education of our staff, so our clinicians can bring new, cutting-edge, and highly effective healing interventions to your communities. We know we need to build on this expertise—not just at the Wendt Center but everywhere. That is why we provide trainings and consultations for other service providers as well.

Underlying everything is our belief that everyone deserves the resources and compassion to heal from their worst moments. You can find our commitment to equity in our close relationships with numerous city agencies and organizations to make sure those who need services are getting them in a timely way—we work on site at the city morgue, at a homeless youth drop-in center, and at a juvenile detention facility, among others. We work with 43 percent of all crime victims seeking mental health services from providers in the city. And, we make sure that cost is not a barrier—60 percent of our clients get services free of charge and crime victims never pay.

I am proud of everything we continue to accomplish here at the Wendt Center, for our clients and our communities. As one of our supporters, you should feel proud too. Thank you for reading our newsletter. I hope you enjoy.

With profound gratitude,
Kathryn Jones Hanley
Board Chair
Staff Spotlight

Shelley Tillman
Client Services Coordinator
Working at the Wendt Center has been one the most rewarding jobs I've ever had. I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing and caring staff. Clients come to the Wendt Center during their worst moments, and I see first-hand the impact we are making on people's lives every day. Sometimes when a client arrives for their first session, they can't look at me. They can barely speak to me. But after a few sessions here, they are looking me in the eye, they are chatting with me, they are smiling. I see mood changes, tears that become smiles, eyes that are ready to say hello to me. I know it is because of their incredible healing experiences here at the Wendt Center.
The Wendt Center sees over 200 clients a week, and as the Client Services Coordinator, I’m the first person most of our clients meet. I take pride in making sure every one of our clients feels welcomed and to assure them, they are not alone. I might not be in the therapy rooms but as the Client Services Coordinator, I am an integral part of the care clients receive at the Wendt Center.
Client Art Corner

Aline Martinez
Creator of "Mourning Morning"
If you've been to the Wendt Center's NW office recently, you may have noticed our art installation piece, "Mourning Morning," by local artist, Aline Martinez. The piece offers a variety of textures from ceramic "columns" to birds cut from delicate tissue paper and suspended with string. Aline was also a client of the Wendt Center. We met with Aline to learn how her experience with grief and with the Wendt Center has informed her art. You can read the interview below.

How long have you been an artist?

I started in earnest in 2009. That’s when I got my studio. And I’ve been working from 2005—I have an undergraduate degree in fine arts. When I got out of undergraduate, I think there were a lot of things that art was informing me about that I couldn’t deal with, so I put it aside for 20 years. I had actually read a book about Alexander Calder. He started as an engineer, and shortly after changed his field of study and became an artist. So I thought, “okay. Maybe I don’t have to do it immediately.” I wasn’t really too much in earnest. I exaggerated.  (Laughs.)

Primarily, from your work that I’ve seen, you work mostly in sculpture.

Yes.

What drew you to that particular medium?

I guess the physicality of it and the process of making things. I did stone carving in college and that felt a little more limited, because once you take away, you can’t add on. So I really like the physical part. Being able to touch, and the textures, and to discern whether to add or to take away, and manipulate. 

What brought you to the Wendt Center?

Grief. I think really it was an accumulation of 40 years of grief, but initially—actually, I’d gone to grief counseling before and I didn’t know about the Wendt Center—but then when I had to address grief issues again, I heard about the Wendt Center, and I just had a good experience from day one. I had an amazing experience here. A very healing and respectful place. I’m so grateful for it. And that’s why I wanted to donate something.

Dr. Susan Greynolds, LPC, shares 5 Things Not to Say / 5 Things to Say to Someone Grieving a Death by Suicide .
Thoughts from a Therapist

Vicarious Trauma
by Tess Bolder, LICSW
Natural disasters. Shootings. Border separations. How do you cope when mass media makes images and stories of trauma and grief inescapable? Media coverage is saturated with stories of violence, destruction, and loss. While the media can help educate and inform, it can also cause something called vicarious trauma.
 
What is vicarious trauma?
 
Vicarious trauma is something we see firsthand at the Wendt Center. It occurs when someone experiences the symptoms of trauma after witnessing, hearing or learning about someone else’s traumatic event. Witnessing the pain that survivors have endured sometimes causes its own traumatization. Simply seeing or hearing about events like violent crimes and mass suffering can produce feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in yourself, your children, and others.
 
What can I do to cope with vicarious trauma?
 
Remember, everybody responds to distressing events differently. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones. Be open. Avoid using language that tells people what they should do or what you would do.
 
Tend to your own needs, even when difficult. Eat, drink water, and try to sleep. Talk about how you feel.

Thank you for reading. Support our work empowering people to heal from the worst moments of their lives.