Wounded Healers provide solace after loss
By Donna Rettew Post-Tribune correspondent July 12, 2013 4:08PM
Volunteers (from left) Joan Roback, Carol Ferraro and Betty Rudnick of the Wounded Healers Support Group, which meets in Highland. Ferraro holds a copy of the cookbook they are currently selling to raise funds for the organization. | Post-Tribune photo
At a glance
Copies of the Wounded Healers cookbook are available during the group’s sessions, through its website, or by phone order. Mailing costs will be added to the order, with payment at the time of purchase. Only cash or checks are accepted. For more information, visit www.woundedhealers-nwi.com or call 924-5577.
Updated: August 15, 2013 6:36AM
Grieving the death of someone close is never easy. It doesn’t matter if the deceased is a spouse, a parent, a friend or a child, or whether it’s through natural causes, illness, an accident, or suicide. The loss is always difficult to overcome.
Several Northwest Indiana volunteers who have experienced loss themselves host regular grief sessions throughout the year in Highland. People attending the Wounded Healers sessions are able to find others who understand their loss, as well as enjoy some delicious, homemade treats after each meeting.
The group’s founder, Pat Kish, said a fundraising cookbook is now available, which includes these and other favorite recipes. Sales of the book will help keep the grief program available for those who need it.
“We are in our 24th year, holding sessions at the St. James the Less Formation Center, located at 45th Street and Kennedy Avenue in Highland,” Kish said. “We don’t charge for any of our services, and depend on donations to cover the costs of seven rooms at St. James, all the handouts, beverages and paper goods at refreshment time, postage for our four community mailings, our holiday program which is open to the public, and volunteer training expenses, to name a few.”
As many as 60 participants attend each of the non-denominational series, held three times a year and consisting of six sessions. Twenty-two volunteers help with seven groups, each dedicated to a particular kind of loss: spouse, child or grandchild, parent/sibling/friend, suicide survivors for adults, a teens’ session on “Why Suicide?” and two advanced groups entitled “Coming Back” and “Parents Moving Forward.”
Kish said the Wounded Healers Comfort Cookie Cookbook is being sold for $10. The printing and binding of 200 copies were donated by McShane’s Business Products and Solutions, Largus Printing, and Kish Funeral Home, all of Munster.
The cookbook idea came directly from the source of all those goodies: Carol Ferraro, of Munster, a Wounded Healers volunteer who also provides the treats after each of the meetings.
“When my daughter Jeanne died in 2003, at the age of 37 after a four-month battle with lung cancer, I was devastated,” Ferraro said. “I needed help badly, trying to cope with the grieving process.”
Her oldest daughter heard about Wounded Healers and coaxed Ferraro into giving it a try. Ferraro’s attendance in the beginning group not only helped her deal with her loss, but provided others who also shared her pain.
“What is so wonderful about these groups is that you never feel alone and people really care about your feelings,” she said. Two years later, Ferraro began volunteering in that same group.
“I knew right away that I wanted to give back what I had received,” she said. “I went through a training period and here I am, eight years later. I love every minute of it. The fulfillment that helping others gives is a great honor for me. I may help them, but they also help me in return.”
Despite not being able to boil water when she married 51 years ago, Ferraro said her mother-in-law taught her everything she knows today. After baking became a passion for her, Ferraro started making and decorating homemade cakes for a hobby in the early 1970s.
“I took cake-decorating classes and became really good at it. I studied every cake-decorating technique I could get my hands on. Soon, I mastered most of them plus European methods of decorating.”
She taught decorating for three years, then started decorating professional custom cakes with a friend in 1976, retiring in 1993. A highlight of her career was being asked by the Diocese of Chicago to provide a cake for the 60th birthday of the late Cardinal Bernardin.
Wounded Healers serves refreshments after the evening sessions, and five years ago Ferraro’s husband suggested she begin baking them so the group wouldn’t have to purchase the treats. She’s been doing it ever since.