When losing someone close, students need to have somewhere to go, and someone to talk to about their grief. A new organization for this purpose will begin on campus at the start of the fall 2009. Ailing Mothers and Fathers (AMF) was started by a college student in Georgetown. David Fajgenbaum lost his mother, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum, while he was attending college, and he realized that there was no organization to help students grieve. Now there are 24 chapters of AMF on college campuses. The name of the organization has the same initials as David’s mother, A.M.F.
Dr. Ruth Porritt began talking about AMF to her honors ethic philosophy class. They have read about sociological views including topics on death and grieving. Her students said that there is nothing like that on campus, other than the counseling center. Her class thought that the counseling center may be very busy, and that establishing AMF on campus would give students another place to go to.
Among Porritt’s students was Jon Russell. Russell is a co-president of AMF who will concentrate on the service aspect. He said he will build something positive. The executive board has been selected from students who are also in Porritt’s class. Her class built the frame of the organization for West Chester University’s campus.
Students helping out in AMF will be given a brochure and some training in support group. These students are there to provide an outlet to grieving students, to let them talk freely of how they are feeling. AMF will not do one-on-one counseling, if this is needed, students should refer to counseling resources that are trained to do so.
AMF is an open group discussion. Students can go to the informal meetings and talk about anything that they want to. Students who are there for help are free to give feedback or do not have to talk at all. If a student prefers, they can go to a meeting and listen to what others are saying.
Awareness of AMF will begin in April. Russell said that there might potentially be a summer program starting as well. Meetings will be informal and will begin regularly in the fall. This group is in the process of getting ready to be accessible for students next year. They are working on obtaining confidentiality papers. AMF wants students to feel comfortable with them and nothing anyone says will leave the room.
AMF will help students grieve the loss of a family member, relative, or friend. They are a support group that will help students grieve pre or post death. If a student finds out someone they know has a terminal disease or has passed away, AMF will be there for them to talk to.
“Want to help out, but don’t know how? I think this organization might help,” Russell said.
The faculty members that will be helping with AMF are Ruth Almy, Elena Lukins, R.J. Wasylyk, and Lauren Montemuro. Russell said that the faculty members and students are very excited to start this program and they understand that this is an “important service to offer students.”
Some students who will help with AMF have lost someone, while others have not.
“I like to help people. This is a time where people are hurting. We want to provide a place where they’re not alone,” Russell said.
It is possible that WCU AMF’s slogan will be “you are not alone.”
Russell said that while his father was in college, his dad, Russell’s grandfather, passed away. His dad said that he had no where to go to talk to people about this. Russell’s dad works with people to help them grieve. When Russell told his dad about AMF starting, he was happy to hear about such an organization. He told Russell that “you know you don’t know what they went through but you know you can help them through it.”
Russell said that students working AMF have talked to resources that have done this type of work before. They learned of the sociological state of mind. At the meetings, students helping with AMF will have a “hands-off approach.” They will “let what happens happen, the students dictate what happens.”
AMF will not need much funding, and the Honors class will help provide a location for the group to go and some students have volunteered help. Russell said that AMF would like to have “the same faces” at the meetings in order to make the students feel comfortable.
AMF will begin officially in the fall, to help students grieve any loss that they experience. Visit the Web site www.studentsofamf.org for more information on AMF.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.