Volunteer Spotlight: Holly Brozowski

We have had the pleasure of having Holly on our team since she started her MSW internship with us last summer! In her time with SandCastles, she’s helped facilitate groups and has helped at multiple site locations with family activities. Get to know Holly below as she answers questions about herself and her experience volunteering with SandCastles!

How did you learn about SandCastles?

I did not know about SandCastles prior to starting my Social Work program at Wayne State. It was my school advisor who introduced me to SandCastles. They knew I had experience volunteering with Hospice, and have an interest in grief work. I also have only worked with the geriatric community, so I was looking forward to working with kids.

What is it about SandCastles’ mission that appeals to you personally?

I’m personally drawn to the fact that SandCastles services are completely free for all families. Grief is something that everyone will experience at one point in their life. It’s such a natural thing, that often counseling for grief is overlooked. But unprocessed grief, especially in children, can be a risk factor for many negative physical and psychological outcomes later in life. SandCastles does a great job removing barriers for local Detroit residents in need of quality grief support.

SandCastles’ mission to provide quality community-based peer support for grieving families is also extremely valuable. Grief can be very lonely and especially for children, it can be isolating when they don’t know anyone who’s experienced a death. The SandCastles peer support structure allows children to be around other kids who are going through similar grief experiences, making them feel less alone and potentially making new friends.

How has your work at SandCastles had an impact on your life?

My work with SandCastles has had such a positive impact on my life. I experienced grief at a young age when my dad died, and never received any grief support or counseling until I was an adult. Working with SandCastles has shown me the positive impact that programs like this can have on grieving children.  I have learned the importance of processing grief in a healthy and timely manner.

Working with SandCastles has allowed me to experience so many incredible moments in families’ grief journeys, and in the world of grief work. Overall my experience with SandCastles has given me more direction in my social work career path.

What would you say is the biggest misconception about grieving children? Why are they an important part of the community to dedicate your time to?

The biggest misconception is that all grieving children act out or misbehave in some way and are sad all the time… on the flip side, children who are behaving “normally” must not be affected by the death and have grieved properly. Many children won’t talk about their grief or how they’re feeling because they simply don’t know or don’t feel comfortable sharing. Many adults even struggle with processing their feelings. When it comes to grief, avoiding it does not make it go away. Unprocessed grief will eventually come back to affect them as adults and could have a negative impact on their life’s trajectory.

Children are the future. They grow up to be active and engaging citizens in our world and economy, and it’s important we set them up for success. So providing children with the tools and resources to help them process their grief, will give them an advantage to be able to deal with hard things life will eventually throw at them.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at SandCastles?

My favorite thing about volunteering with SandCastles is getting to see a full range of emotions in the children, from somber with tears to happy with laughter. Seeing how resilient and smart these children are gives me hope for the future.

What advice would you give to those considering volunteering their time or donating a gift to SandCastles?

It is well worth your time and you won’t regret it. Grief work can be tough at times, but it’s absolutely worth it.

SandCastles is so grateful for the support of dedicated volunteers like Holly. If you’re interested in joining our volunteer team, please click here for more information!

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