Joel’s Place for Children was conceived in 2003 by Kathy Stellato, R.N. and Mary Willhite, L.S.W.
After working together, Kathy and Mary decided to create a non-profit that would meet the needs of children and their families who had experienced the death of a loved one. The two extensively studied the nationally recognized Dougy Center of Portland, Oregon, and the teachings of Dr. Alan Wolfelt, founder of the Center for Loss & Life Transition. After obtaining advanced bereavement facilitator certificates, they felt ready to provide our services to grieving children and their families.
Joel’s Place could not have started without the generous support of many. Bay Presbyterian Church of Bay Village generously offered to host our groups, and we have been holding support groups there since the very first session.
To model healing behavior for our children, we named our organization Joel’s Place for Children. Of the hundreds of organizations across the country who are modeled after the Dougy Center, most are named in memory of a loved one, and we are no exception.
Joel Willhite, the namesake of Joel’s Place for Children | Joel Willhite died of colon cancer on May 24, 1998. He was 51 years old. His father died when Joel was 18. It deeply saddened him for the rest of his life. He would be honored that an organization that carries his name is providing comfort to children and their families who have suffered one of life’s most difficult experiences. Joel’s wife, Mary Willhite, is one of our Co-Founders and Board Member Emeritus.