Oak Tree Corner helps grieving children

"When someone important dies in a family, surviving children often feel quite isolated and alone," says Vicki Braun, Executive Director of Oak Tree Corner since 1998. CONTRIBUTED
"When someone important dies in a family, surviving children often feel quite isolated and alone," says Vicki Braun, Executive Director of Oak Tree Corner since 1998. CONTRIBUTED

When children or teens experience the death of a parent or sibling, where can they turn for understanding or support?

In the Dayton area, Oak Tree Corner offers comfort through meals and meetings for children ages 3 to 18.

Established in 1996 by a group of professionals who worked with children, Oak Tree Corner is based on the nation’s first children’s grief group in Portland, Ore. Similar programs exist in more than 300 cities as part of the National Alliance for Grieving Children.

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Over the past 25 years, the organization has served 10,000 children. “We will certainly celebrate our anniversary, but we have not set a date yet,” says Vicki Braun, executive director. “Our first meeting was held in October of 1996 and we will honor that. We did not anticipate being available for children whose parents, siblings, grandparents or friends experienced the impact of a worldwide pandemic.”

These days, following many deaths from COVID-19, the group has been able to hold small in-person meetings.

“We have been able to continue in-person support,” says Braun. “Teens have met in our main building for more than six months. Parents and children who had been coming to us begged us not to switch to Zoom meetings. With the help of some wonderful volunteers who had already experienced COVID last summer, we were able to hold some tiny groups.”

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Braun says they’re looking forward to having larger groups as more folks are vaccinated. “Eventually, we plan to return to three meeting locations,” she says. “Meanwhile anyone is welcome to come to our Far Hills office, but we know having Warren County and Greene County locations makes us accessible to more children.”

“Our affiliated agencies meet on Zoom weekly,” says Braun. “We can track where there are larger outbreaks and share resources to help children who have had family members die because of this pandemic. We are serving more children whose grandparents experienced COVID. "

Here’s what they need:

  • Paper towels, plates and napkins
  • Toilet paper
  • Juice boxes
  • Magazines
  • Doctor and veterinary play sets
  • Gift cards to pizza chains and grocery stores
  • 2-liter bottles of caffeine-free orange soda and root beer
  • Craft supplies

You can drop off donations between 10 a.m. and 6 pm Tuesday through Friday at 136 Far Hills Ave., or other hours by appointment. Items also may be left on the front porch.

For more information, contact Oak Tree Corner at 937-520-2881 or visit www.oaktreecorner.org.

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Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith: meredith.moss@coxinc.com.

Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.

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