Kenny Slaught has endorsed Hospice of Santa Barbara as they work to build an active presence at local school campuses of all levels, from elementary school to college. Program leaders visit campuses and organize weekly support groups for students experiencing traumatic or complex scenarios and requiring a safe space in which to discuss their thoughts and feelings. On-campus volunteers aim to create an open atmosphere that encourage self-reflection and boost critical coping skills. The necessary coping skills help adolescents avoid drugs, alcohol, and other forms of self-medication. In addition to direct work with students, the hospice volunteers deliver training to faculty and staff members on how to effectively communicate with students who are dealing with trauma and how to handle their questions about death, most notably violent deaths and suicide. Each of the 65 schools in the Hospice of Santa Barbara network can call on the organization around the clock to respond to a traumatic situation quickly and efficiently.
Renowned real estate investor, Kenny Slaught has been demonstrating a lifelong commitment to contributing to the Californian communities where his firm does business. In following his corporate social responsibility mission, he has been a continued advocate of the Hospice of Santa Barbara and their initiative, ‘The Youth Bereavement Outreach Program’. Slaught’s efforts to increase public awareness of importance of children’s emotional wellbeing include recently promotion of the program via his blog at KennySlaught.com.
Kenny Slaught notes that “When children lose a loved one, it can feel like their lives will never be the same again. Their grief may seem insurmountable.” To help stand strong against these hardships, the I Have a Friend mentor program matches children and adolescents in this situation with a trained adult volunteer who went through a similar loss at a young age. This volunteer becomes a companion and works with the child throughout the grief process, providing a truly relatable point of view. The relationships built through this program often are indispensable as the child continues to face hardships for many years.
Research has proven that unaddressed grief can have a serious impact on children and teenagers’ functioning and personality. When these young people have not developed the coping skills they need to process grief, they may fall into violence, drugs, or alcohol. Offering a healthy outlet, I Have a Friend offers these children the opportunity to form a real bond with someone who has experienced a similar deep loss. Highlighting the significance of this program, Kenny Slaught writes, “Recognizing that the child’s life will never be the same, the mentor offers a positive example for how to process and deal with the pain of loss. The mentor serves as a symbol that happiness and wholeness can be achieved no matter how the child may feel in the years immediately following a major loss.”