Kelly McDyre, executive director of the Plymouth-based nonprofit Faith's Lodge, has launched a new benefit employers can offer to help employees returning to work after a child's death.
McDyre, citing research, said grieving parents function at 30 percent of capacity for the first 30 days and slightly more than 60 percent for the first six months after a child's death or after their child's "medically complex diagnosis."
"The average economic loss for an employer — and this is just related to grieving parents not parents with sick kids — is just under $50,000," McDyre said. "What we try to remind employers is you've got a good person, you want to retain a valuable employee and you want to mitigate that economic impact."
Faith's Lodge, founded in 2007, serves parents and families coping with a child's death or complex diagnosis. It offers weekend programs for families at a lodge on 72 acres near Danbury, Wis.
"We support them in a peaceful setting that allows them to reflect on the past, rebuild their strength for the present and then build hope for the future," McDyre said.
To ease the transition back to work, Faith's Lodge last fall launched a program called "Hope Works Here."
The program offers resources and referrals to employers and the affected employee when a crisis occurs, McDyre said.
Through Hope Works Here, a licensed mental health professional serving as a transition coach meets with the employee before he or she returns to work, McDyre said. The transition coach also speaks to the employer and colleagues about interacting with the employee when he or she returns and follows up with the employee some time after he or she is back at work.
As a final step, the employer gives the employee a certificate for a stay at Faith's Lodge.
Hope Works Here costs $3,995, McDyre said. Employers can enroll for free and receive information to share with employees or contact Faith's Lodge as needed.
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, SPS Commerce and the Boulay accounting firm are among employers that have enrolled, McDyre said.
Q: What motivated you to work with Faith's Lodge?
A: My sister visited Faith's Lodge in 2010 after the sudden death of her 12-year-old son. I saw the benefit of the connection she made there. I was working for Cambria, a wonderful company, and I never felt like I left Cambria. I felt like I went to Faith's Lodge because I belong here. I worked in sports and event management prior to that. All those skills from all of those other things have served me well in helping this organization grow.
Q: Do you see yourself taking an entrepreneurial approach within a nonprofit organization?
A: I've been trying to figure out from a business standpoint, diversifying revenue and how else we can serve parents. Maybe that's the value of a for-profit background. We're not-for-profit but we have to continue to evolve, diversify and stretch ourselves and grow.
Q: Are you aware of other services like Faith's Lodge and Hope Works Here?
A: Faith's Lodge is the only facility of its kind in the country still, 12 years after it opened. We've seen people from 40 states and Europe. We've launched this new service and as far as I know nobody else is doing it. I think this has great potential to grow and serve in a turnkey package that can help employers.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is email@example.com.