Spring 2010

( Download a print version here! )

From the Director

Counseling children and families is a sacred trust which is taken seriously at the House of Mercy and Encouragement. I pray daily for guidance from the Holy Spirit and in particular the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and good counsel. For I know if God imparts these gifts upon myself, my volunteers, and the children and families whom we serve, the healing power of Jesus will manifest itself. However,  beyond these gifts, sometimes God imparts little “gifts” along the way to encourage me and allow me to see his hand at work. Like the day I walked into the waiting room and a small child said to me, “Miss Dolores, you are precious in the eyes of God!” I was taken aback as this was totally unexpected. It called to mind another verse, “Blessed are you, Lord God of the universe for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the merest of children.” (Luke 10:21) I can only pray that the children and families will be able to see the love of Christ shine through HOME and the work that we do. I pray all who come may have their strength, hope and faith renewed through Christ.

The second “gift” that God allowed was the angel I found. I was coming back to the office from a meeting at a local school feeling a little overwhelmed. At the front door was a box containing a ceramic angel. It had a tag that said, “Mrs. Mortimer.” I still don’t know who put it there, but it is a beautiful angel holding a baby. It reminds me of the scripture verse, “See that you don’t despise any of these little ones. Their angels in heaven, I tell you are in the presence of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10) It is an honor to meet with children for I know that when they walk through the door, I am also in the presence of their angel who is in the presence of our heavenly Father. It is an awe inspiring thought!

There are so many exciting and God-filled moments that have happened in the last few months since our last issue of HOMEtown News. I hope you will take a moment to peruse the articles to see all our wonderful blessings God is providing.

God Bless you and your families.

In his peace,

Dolores Mortimer, LMHC #5480, RPT-S

National Certified Counselor

Did You Know…?

  • The average fee for counseling in Pinellas County is approx. $95 per 50 minute session.  HOME serves our community including the economically disadvantaged by providing quality counseling at significantly lower rates –  HOME rates are less than 60% of county averages!  Additionally, many families get free services through funding by the Children’s Home, Inc.
  • HOME operates largely on volunteer services.  Through March 15th, HOME has already logged in excess of 1000 volunteer hours for 2010!
  • In 2009, HOME helped over 100 children and over 70 families through the variety of services we offer.  Thus far in 2010, HOME is on track to double the number of children and families served!

Spotlight on Jetta Hennings

Jetta starting working at the House of Mercy and Encouragement on Monday February 22, 2010. Jetta is working daily from 11:00 am-5:00 pm. She is a real master at finding help for families as her previous employment included the Family Counseling System of Care, the Children’s Home, Inc.

If I could give her a title, it would be “Godsend”. Her official title is Family Support Coordinator/Administrative Assistant. Her love of families and children is evident in everything she does. Her organizational skills and communication skills are phenomenal. When you call the office, it will her cheerful voice and pleasant demeanor greeting you. Among many other duties, she is responsible for scheduling all the appointments.

A Favorite scripture of Jetta’s is Psalm 103 1-5:

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits –
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

My Story
“My Story” is a true story written by a parent who found help through HOME.  Our deepest gratitude to the author!

There have been many times in my parenting journey when I wanted to throw my hands up and resign. Having two children two years apart has been a mixed blessing, but a blessing none the less.

Over time, our journey has taken some unanticipated twists and turns. It’s just one of those side streets that brought us to Dolores Mortimer and HOME.

Our 8 year old son had gradually lost all sense of self-control and began having violent temper tantrums. As the fits increased in frequency and intensity, we could no longer deny that our situation was beyond our own expertise.

A friend recommended Mrs. Mortimer and after speaking with her on the phone, I knew in my heart that she was the one God had ordained to help us navigate this difficult path. We met her and quickly felt at ease sharing our very personal trials and unique struggles. Her warm personality and wise instincts were evident right from the start.

Through the last eight weeks I have come to terms with the limitations of my own power to “change” my son. Dolores has helped me weather the storm with the knowledge that perfection is not the goal-persistence is! My son’s issues are far from over but the hope and encouragement that we have received will continue to sustain us as we move forward. This is a process and this is life. Sharing in each others burdens is what we’re called to do as believers. Mrs. Mortimer has done just that.


Girl Scouts Amanda DeWitt and Rachel Tew are Senior level scouts working toward their Gold Award – the highest award in Girl Scouting.  This award requires a project that will have a lasting effect on the community and they’ve chosen to help The House of Mercy and Encouragement by transforming HOME’s small building out back into a “clubhouse” with an atmosphere that’s friendly and fun enough to be used for group therapy.  They are currently raising funds for this project and would appreciate your help!

Parents as PROs (Parent Resource Opportunities) will  provide a means for parents and children to ask questions, express feelings and learn strategies on how to cope with problems and feelings through books and videos.

Financial Literacy Seminar will teach basic financial concepts and ways to achieve financial goals through debt elimination, saving and giving.

God Stories
“God Stories” is a regularly featured article about how God is continually working through people and events unfolding around us.  If you have a God Story to share, please submit it to [email protected].  The following story was submitted by Sharyn Giildea.  Our heartfelt thanks to the author!

It was the night my son David died.  Of course, I could not sleep.  Almost as a mantra, a verse repeated in my head:  “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  I randomly picked up a Bible (from amongst my many) to look up the scripture, Job 1:21.  The Bible I referenced was the New Jerusalem Bible, which translates the verse as “Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken back. Blessed be the name of Yahweh!”  Immediately, I felt better that God had not cruelly “taken away” but instead had “taken back”.  Knowing that God has taken back my son has comforted me in my grief, especially since David’s death was by suicide.  I was blessed to be David’s steward for a time, but God took back David in the time of God’s choosing.

Yet my grief was overwhelming.  Every night, I took time to mourn – to pray, to journal and to just be with my grief.  As I was praying one night about three months following David’s death, I realized that my worst pain came from knowing the depth of David’s pain preceding his suicide.  I distinctly heard a voice – David’s – say to me “That was my pain, not yours.  Don’t go there”.  Again, I was reminded of what was and was not mine.

These are just two of so many gifts God has given me to help with my pain and for which I am thankful.  Others include my friendships with Dolores Mortimer and Shirley Celidonio and my involvement with House of Mercy and Encouragement!

Who Will Dry Our Tears?
Retreat for Parents Who Have Lost a Child

The House of Mercy and Encouragement and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Dunedin are co-sponsoring a weekend retreat May 7, 8, 9, 2010 specifically designed for fathers and mothers who have experienced the death of a child. Opening prayer service will be by Fr. Gary Dowsey, Pastor; presentations by Johnnette Benkovic, Founder and Director of “Living His Life Abundantly International” and “Women of Grace”; and closing Mass celebrated by Fr. Jack Marino, OFM.  The retreat will be held at the Bethany Center in Lutz, Florida. Cost is $175 per person double occupancy including 5 meals; $225 single occupancy.  Space is limited – Please register early by calling 727-786-7951.  A limited number of scholarships are available.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4

Pieta Memorial

The Pieta Memorial was dedicated at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on June 11, 2006 to all parents who have lost a child in memory of Timothy George Mortimer and Michael Angelo Celidonio by the Mortimer and Celidonio families. The garden and base was an Eagle Scout project completed by Matthew Brown.

On February 2, 2010 fifty children’s names were added to name plaques and dedicated at The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord.  Father Gary celebrated a beautiful mass and blessed the names that were added.

This garden is a place of prayer for many.  You may want to visit it someday if you are seeking a peaceful refuge.

Feeling Good
Moving Beyond Grief and Loss
By Sam Patterson MSW

Stages of Recovery from Loss

There are some predictable stages that most people pass through after losing something or someone important. In her work on death and dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined five stages of grieving.

Shock and Denial: The first reaction to loss is often the inability to feel anything. This may include feeling numb, weak, overwhelmed, anxious, not yourself, or withdrawn.

Anger: Blaming yourself or others for the loss.

Bargaining: “If you’ll just let him live, I’ll promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.”

Depression: Feeling deep sadness, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, thoughts of suicide, excessive crying.

Acceptance: Beginning to look for the lessons of the experience.

Kübler-Ross said that the grieving process involves experiencing all five stages, although not always in this order. She also said that people often cycle back and forth through a number of the stages before coming to the stage of acceptance.

Recovering from Loss: Some Key Points

1. You are responsible for your own grief process. No one can tell you how to grieve, and no one will do your grieving for you. It is hard work and you must manage the process by yourself.

2. The grief process has a purpose. It is to help you learn to accept the reality of the loss and to learn from the experience.

3. Remind yourself that your grief will end. You will not feel like this forever. You will heal.

4. Take care of your health. Grief is extremely stressful, and it requires energy to manage the stress.

5. Be careful with food and drink. While it may be tempting to numb the pain with food and drink, this can lead to the additional problems of alcohol dependence and weight gain. Also, numbing the pain means you are prolonging denial. This will make your grieving process longer.

6. Talk about the person who is no longer in your life. People sometimes avoid talking about the loss as a denial mechanism. However, this prolongs denial and the grieving process.

7. Take time to be alone. In the days and weeks following the loss of a loved one, there is often a flurry of activity with many visitors and phone calls. Added to the stress of your loss, this can be completely exhausting. People will understand if you don’t answer the phone for an afternoon or go to your room and close the door for a while.

8. Maintain a normal routine if you can. You have enough changes in your life right now. Try to get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and take your meals at the same times you usually do.

9. Ask for help. You will need it. If you don’t want to be alone, or if you want someone to take you somewhere, it is okay to ask. People don’t expect you to be self-sufficient right now.

10. Let people help you. People want to help because it gives them a way to express their feelings. Staying connected with people is especially important now, and accepting help is a way of staying connected.

11. Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences during the grief process. Writing about your feelings helps you express them, rather than keeping them inside. It also gives you something to remember and review in the future, which you will appreciate.

Writing about your feelings helps you express them, rather than keeping them inside.

12. Avoid making extreme life changes after a major loss. Don’t make any important decisions until your life feels more balanced. It can be tempting to make some important changes right after a major loss as an effort to feel more in control. If you can, put off such changes and decisions until later.

13. Don’t hurry your grief process. People sometimes want to put their feelings and memories behind them because they are painful. But grieving takes time, and there are no shortcuts.

14. Remind yourself that although grief hurts, it will not harm you. Grief is painful, but you will survive and even grow from the experience.

15. Expect to regress in your recovery process from time to time. This is normal. It may happen unexpectedly, but it probably won’t last long.

16. Acknowledge the anniversary of your loss by taking the day off or doing something special. Have supportive people ready to be with you. It could be a difficult day and it’s better not to be alone.

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving

1. Don’t try to get them to feel or be anything but what they are.

2. Don’t reward them for acting cheerful or “like your old self.” This teaches them to suppress their feelings around you.

3. Don’t avoid them. They need your support.

4. Let them tell about the loss again and again, if they need to.

5. Recognize that unexpected, perhaps inappropriate behavior is part of the grieving process. It means the bereaved person is moving forward.

Volunteer Angels
Deepest Gratitude is extended to the following volunteers and service providers:

Donna Yeasting– office help and lots and lots of filing

Ken Mortimer– computer service and website

Emily Rodgers– much miscellaneous but important work and especially her assistance with this newsletter

Denise Lynn, LMHC– therapist

Wish List

Office equipment and supplies – a color printer, printer paper, notepads (lined, letter size), paper clips, mailing labels, toner for Canon laser printer MF4350d OR giftcard to Staples or Office Depot.

Refreshments (for clients) – water bottles, cans of soda, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks (not sweets) OR giftcard to Walmart

Treasures (small items) – for the treasure box OR giftcard to Oriental Trading Co.

Financial assistance –

-For overhead expenses

-For scholarships to grief retreat (see pg. 5)

-For scholarships to financial literacy seminar (see pg. 2)

-For “Parents as Pros” project (see pg. 2)

-For Girl Scout annex renovation project (see pg. 2)

Need Help??

Call HOME at 786-7951

Our vision is to compassionately serve as a resource for those children and families who are affected by mental health, learning and/ or other issues.  We are a faith-based provider who believes in the God given dignity of every child and family.  All families are treated with respect and kindness.