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Summerfest raises money for Hope & Healing

by Caryn Haller
Special to The R-C
Head sausage chef Gary Williams cooks up hot dogs and bratwurst Saturday at Minden Park for the Brats and Brew Tasting event.
Brad Coman |

For the counselors at Douglas Center For Hope & Healing, there’s never a shortage of families who need their help.

And after six years of helping more than 150 families navigate through the loss of a loved one, the Center needed a larger space.

“We’re a resource center for children, teens and families who’ve had a loss,” Cofounder and Director Jodi Wass said. “We have to fundraise to pay for rent, utilities and the 24-hour hotline so we can continue to provide free counseling to our community.”

In April, Wass and her staff moved into the Mountainview Professional Building in Gardnerville. To help pay the bills in the larger space, they partnered with the Carson Valley 20/30 Club and hosted a Summerfest fundraiser featuring brats, bands and brews Saturday in Minden Park.

“The Center is important for our community,” Gardnerville resident Marley Breitenbucher said. “Everyone can relate to loss in some way. Jodi likes to get people together, and she is the best person to run an organization like this.”

Wass and Solace Tree founder Emilio Parga cofounded Douglas Center for Hope & Healing following the deaths of three Douglas High School students in one year.

As a counselor for Aspire High School at the time, Wass spent a year at the high school helping students grieve the loss of their classmates.

“The students were crying out for help, and we didn’t want to send people to Reno for help,” Wass said.

The Center offers grief support groups twice a month at its office. Counselors will also go to a school, business or to someone’s home to provide counseling after a loss.

“There’s a lot of people in the community who don’t know we exist,” Wass said.

Adult support group facilitator Mickey Garcia used her personal loss, and the help she received afterward to help others.

“This was my way of keeping myself in a safe spot,” she said of her work at the center. “It’s helped me and now I can help others. It’s free, safe and secure. What’s talked about there, stays there. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have that. It’s a form of therapy for me.”

In addition to food and drink sales, Summerfest featured raffles and silent auction items with a goal of raising one-year’s rent, or $18,000.

“It’s an amazing organization,” Gardnerville resident Lori Baxter said as she helped sell raffle tickets. “They do everything they can to help people who are at their lowest. Fortunately, I have not had to use their services, but I know people who have experienced terrible loss, and it’s great to have this resource here.”

Douglas Center for Hope & Healing is located at 1528 Highway 395, Suite 215 in Gardnerville.

To donate or for a wish list of items the Center needs, visit their website http://www.douglascenterforhopeandhealing.org.

If you have experienced a loss of any kind, and need someone to talk to, call the 24-hour hotline phone number at 450-0329.