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Gabby’s Ladder Grief Center and MCCC partner for fundraising opportunity

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Renee Dobberstein Darrow and Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson from Gabby’s Grief Center explaining the process of the fundraiser (Photo Courtesy of Gabby’s Grief Center).

Gabby’s Ladder Grief Center and MCCC have partnered in hopes of giving the community a chance to give back to grief service providers.

Opened in 2001, Gabby’s Ladder provides free grief counseling services to local families and individuals who have suffered from loss.

“Our main focus is people of all ages can learn to cope in a healthy way,” Gabby’s Ladder director Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson said. “This fundraiser is helping to keep us going and we’ve been blessed by an amazing community and our faithful group. We’ve never had to charge anyone for 19 years, so it’s a big blessing.”

The grief center offers in-person meetings that include family counseling, individual counseling, adult support groups, and children support groups.

With all services being free, the grief center has organized a fundraiser to raise money which will support the free services that are provided.

The grief center and Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson, former Miss America and director of Gabby’s Ladder Grief Center, are giving MCCC students and staff the opportunity to help with this fundraiser which began Nov. 16.

MCCC has put together a team to participate in the  cause.

Penny Dorcey, executive assistant to the President and secretary to the Board of Trustees, said the goal is for each member of each team to commit to doing 75 surveys, donating 75 minutes of their time over a period of 30 days to help Gabby’s Ladder.

Each survey generates $2 for the grief services provided through Gabby’s Ladder.

Two fundraisers have been canceled due to COVID-19, and the counseling service is now offering an online option to help.

“All I’m asking from our community is to not open their pocketbooks and give the surveys 60 to 75 minutes of your time,” Wilson said. “Sit back in your La-Z-Boy chair, do some surveys, and you’ve given us $150 without writing a check or opening your pocketbooks.”

Wilson said the Center understands time is precious and she is thankful for those who can help.

The money accumulated in this fundraiser will be in effect until the end of 2021.

In order to complete surveys, participants must:

  1. Grab a phone and text “Gabby” to the phone number “31996.” A text continuing a link will direct participants to the survey.
  2. Choose a support team (e.g., Kaye Lani’s team is “Making a Difference Rafko/Wilson Family and Friends”
  3. Complete 75 surveys before Dec. 20 and you raised $150 for Gabby’s
  4. Help enlist other participants that are 18 or older.

Kojo Quartey, president of MCCC, invited all staff and students help to raise money for those grieving in the community.

Quartey said his family has been participating in completing surveys to support the fundraiser.

Anyone who participates must be 18 years or older and must complete the surveys in under 30 seconds.

Quartey said it has been hard during these difficult times surrounded by COVID-19, and Gabby’s Ladder is one of the very few places to provide grief counseling in our community.

“Having the chance to talk to someone about your grief, it’s important,” he said.

A few years ago, Quartey attended Gabby’s Ladder for counseling to help cope with an unexpected loss in 2000 when his father died at age 71.

“When I ended up alone, that’s when it really hit me,” he said.

Quartey lost his little brother six years later after his father passed.

“I was traveling in China and then I found out by email,” Quartey said.

He said he had never grieved harder than during that time period.

“They’ll sit there with you, cry with you, and be there for you,” Quartey said. “That’s what people need during those difficult times.”

For the last four years, MCCC has provided space for Gabby’s Ladder to conduct a one-week program in the summer for children who have lost loved ones.

While this opportunity was not provided this year due to COVID-19, Gabby’s Ladder plans to continue these annual programs when possible.

“We are all team Gabby,” Wilson said. “We are grateful for whatever we can do.”