(818) 788-HOPE (4673)
Grief Support Groups Serving West Los Angeles, Encino and Agoura Hills

Happy Birthday, HOPE Connection

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A long time ago, I presented a half-day workshop called “When the Group Changes.” It was about how difficult it is when any group changes and has to say goodbye. It’s hard to say goodbye, whether it’s an individual, a family or an organization. Everyone grieves. It’s a natural part of life. Life changes and whether we like it or not, it still changes. Nothing is permanent.

Resilience, hope and sometimes pure courage are some of the things that help us through… one day at a time, one step at a time, one minute at a time.

On December 31, 1979, three directors, Avrum Bluming, MD, Robert Leibowitz, MD and Gerald Coash, LCSW founded HOPE as H.O.P.E. Unit Foundation. The purpose was to provide support, including group support, to individuals suffering from hematological or oncological health issues. My first group back in 1992 was a cancer support group. I was so glad to be a part of H.O.P.E and to be of service to others.

Shortly after 1992, the mission of H.O.P.E changed. The groups transitioned into being grief support groups. We no longer offered cancer support groups. Our new mission:

To help people whose lives have been touched by the death of a loved one — by providing individual and group support, educational programs and information that help alleviate the pain of grief and promote healing.

It was a big change but a necessary one.

Since then, HOPE has had its growth pains and struggles. Not marketed very well, in 2012, we were within one week of closing our doors. We had a wonderful reputation but our community of those who knew us was limited. There was a lot of change, reorganization and even a name change to… HOPE Connection. The name made sense because that’s what we wanted to do… connect and create connections at a time when individuals and their connections feel fragile and broken. It was a hard time but one of pure purpose, intention and holding on to our sense of resilience and determination. We had too important of a purpose in service to others to close our doors. 

Instead, we grew and became stronger and better. We were changed, a bit different but serving a higher purpose that continued to live. If you think about it, when your loved one dies and you’re thrown into bereavement and grief, life is different and changed… yet there is somehow a purpose to your changes that need to find life.

In the article below and the accompanying TED talk, three key insights arise that are relevant to HOPE Connection. All relate to resilience, which, for a non-profit like HOPE as well as individuals, is a crucial aspect of healing and growing.

Remember, resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. And the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

The three insights are:

1. Know that suffering is part of life.

HOPE Connection went through its own difficult changes, suffering and endings to find its now, redefined and alive to do more.

2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention.

By placing total attention on flowing with change, having hope and doing hard work, by believing and having faith that we could do this and continue to offer an amazing service to others in need, we and HOPE Connection thrived.

3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?”

We truly care about being of service and keep that as our utmost intention. It’s helping… us and others. We’re here to see you through.

40 Years Building Community

Since that night of December 31, 1979, HOPE in its two iterations has offered:

  • 40 years of service to the Los Angeles Community.
  • 40 years of grief group support, education and building communities of individuals who become friends for a lifetime.
  • 40 years of connection and purpose.

We are grateful. Thank you for being a part of our family during such a difficult time in life.

By Jo Christner, PsyD