Good Shepherd Hospice Groundbreaking Ceremony for Bethany Center for Grieving Children in Lakeland

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Photo: Good Shepherd Hospice Groundbreaking Ceremony for Bethany Center for Grieving Children in Lakeland, Florida.

Center Provides Free Bereavement Services for Children and Families

Good Shepherd Hospice, in Lakeland, Florida, held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Bethany Center for Grieving Children in Lakeland on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

The Bethany Center for Grieving Children, with locations in Auburndale and Sebring, provides counseling, hope and healing free of charge for all children and families who grieve the loss of a loved one. Experienced grief counselors and trained volunteers guide children and families through the grief process.

“This is a monumental occasion for Good Shepherd Hospice. This state-of-the-art facility is just what Lakeland needs. Grief is universal and the Bethany Center is a place for children to grieve a loss, their way,” said Kyle Zenkner, Executive Director of Good Shepherd Hospice.

The new Bethany Center in Lakeland features a range of interactive resources for children including but not limited to:

  • An expressive art studio filled with an array of art materials for children to use for free expression.
  • A play therapy room, complete with a state-of-the-art interactive sandbox, play kitchen and other amenities that enable children to play and engage with one another in a safe environment.
  • An interactive gaming floor that encourages sports, games and physical activity to reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.

The Bethany Center is named after Bethany Ann Traviesa, a wife and mother. The center began its services with one grief counselor in 1991 in Dixieland, following Traviesa’s death. It steadily grew and became part of Good Shepherd Hospice in 2001. It left Lakeland to become part of the hospice’s Auburndale facility.

“It does take a village. A caring community that helps one another and aids in the pursuit of a good life for its people. We have this kind of community which is why the Bethany Center has flourished for 30 years and helped thousands of children and family members through tough times. Beth repeatedly voiced her gratitude to this community,” said Dr. Dan Traviesa, husband of Bethany Ann Traviesa.

Its return to Lakeland represents the culmination of an extensive fundraising campaign totaling approximately $550,000.  Good Shepherd Hospice has established an agency fund within the Give Well Community Foundation. This fund will provide another giving opportunity for local philanthropists who may prefer the relative long-term security provided by the foundation while ensuring the Bethany Center’s grief programs continue for years to come. In addition, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners awarded Good Shepherd Hospice $250,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Biden in March. That funding will go straight to the Bethany Center of Lakeland.

Fran Gompf, Bethany Center Lakeland Advisory Committee Member and personal friend to Bethany Ann Traviesa, remarked, “As time goes on history takes its toll on what was to be, and where things are to be. The Bethany Center thrived and grew, but it was no longer in Lakeland. It has to have a home in Lakeland.”

About Good Shepherd Hospice
Good Shepherd Hospice, an affiliate of Chapters Health System, is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that supports more than 4,200 patients each year in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties as they face the challenges of advancing age and illness. Since 2008, the organization has been accredited by The Joint Commission, the nation’s premier healthcare accrediting body

About Chapters Health Foundation
Chapters Health Foundation is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization committed to supporting Chapters Health System, a progressive leader in home health, palliative care, hospice, and grief support. Chapters Health Foundation provides more than $7.4 million annually to help offset the accumulated costs of unfunded and underfunded programming including but not limited to charity care, helping to meet the needs of patients and families who cannot afford hospice services. Chapters Health Foundation also provides $1.3 million in funding for the provision of grief support across Chapters Health and in 2020, provided more than $1 million to assist with underfunded pediatric and adult palliative care services.

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