KANEVILLE TOWNSHIP – Conley Farm each year offers people a chance to gather, grieve and recover. Conley Outreach Community Services holds grief events there, including its Good Grief Day Camp for children ages 6 through 12 who have lost a parent or sibling.
But help is needed to ready the facilities for such events. Every spring, Conley Outreach invites volunteers to prepare the property. This year’s annual spring workday will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
This event usually draws from 35 to 65 volunteers, but “it would be ideal if we had 100 because we never get all the work done,” said Tigger Kainz, the workday coordinator. “The farm is 11 acres, so there is a lot to do.”
Tasks include taking down tarps, raking, mulching, trimming trees, scrubbing furniture and the pavilion as well as cleaning debris out of the farm’s creek. A light lunch will be provided. Volunteers are needed throughout this year’s warm months to complete two projects – building a deck off of the pavilion and a gazebo near the creek.
Many of the workday volunteers are family members mourning a loved one, and they find comfort in the tasks, Kainz said. She also said planting seeds is on the agenda and that doing this is symbolic of the grief process.
“It gives people a sense that things will get back to normal,” Kainz said.
In addition to the grief camp in June, Conley Outreach uses the farm for an annual steppingstone workshop, which allows people to create a stone in memory of a loved one. Participants can either take the stone with them or place it in the children’s prayer garden on the farm. Every September, there is a memorial walk held in memory of Conley Outreach’s founder, Bruce Conley. In December, mourners take part in a tree and candle lighting ceremony at the farm.
To volunteer for the workday, people can call Carol Alfrey, executive director for Conley Outreach, at 630-365-2880 or simply show up on the day of the event. The farm is at 47W085 Main Street Road, just west of Kaneville.
Those participating should bring work gloves and gardening tools, such as clippers, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows and small chain saws. For those working in the creek, waterproof boots are necessary.
Kainz stressed that Conley Outreach needs monetary contributions in addition to volunteers.
“Without the community’s financial backing, we would not be able to offer these programs,” she said.
Checks can be made out to Conley Outreach Community Services and mailed to P.O. Box 931, Elburn, IL 60119.