Widowed Community Education & Support Services, Inc. (WCESS) is a nonprofit organization incorporated in Arizona. WCESS was founded by Jim Schwartz, a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and financial advisor who realized that nearly half his clients were widowed and few had spoken of attending grief support groups or working with professional bereavement counselors. When trying to find local resources for his clients who recently lost a spouse or partner, Jim realized there might be a need for local peer-to-peer grief support groups and a multi-day conference.

The primary mission objective of WCESS is the education and support of those who lost a spouse or partner.

Jim’s research into the needs of the widowed community started with the reading of two books of almost identical titles. The first book, Widow to Widow: How the Bereaved Help Each Other, is authored by Dr. Phyllis R. Silverman, researcher and teacher. Dr. Silverman’s research in understanding how the bereaved help each other led to her development of the peer-to-peer model for grief support groups. Her books and bio are found at her website: www.phyllisrsilverman.com.

The second book, Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, Practical Ideas for Rebuilding Your Life, was authored by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, a counselor in Tucson. Genevieve lost her husband in 1977 and decided to start a peer-to-peer grief support group. Her group grew into many groups in Tucson. In 1989 Genevieve passed away but her network of grief support groups is still operating in Tucson today.

In late 2010, the current president of the Tucson network of grief support groups helped Jim start the first widowed-to-widowed grief support group in Tempe, Arizona, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Plans are in motion to start more peer-to-peer grief support groups in Phoenix and surrounding areas. These support groups are organized through Meetup.com. More details on these support groups are available on the Grief Support Groups page of this website.

Jim’s second initiative is the annual weekend conference for those who lost a spouse or partner. His goal in founding this annual conference is to provide an environment where those who lost a spouse or partner can commune with fellow widows and widowers, hear each other’s stories, make new friends, meet old friends, and acquire the tools necessary to manage their lives during this New Journey through life. More information on the conference is located on the Conference page of this website.

Tax Status: WCESS, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations to WCESS, Inc. are tax-deductible.

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Tools for the “New Normal” Journey

Financial Tools eBooks and Checklists related to financial security
  Reading List   Books, Poems, Letters, and Quotes
Blogs & Forums Blogs and Forums focused on the widowed community
     Websites      Regarding all issues one faces after losing a spouse or partner
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2012 Details

Tools for the “New Normal” Journey

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What is it?: The Tools for the “New Normal” Journey is a weekend conference for anyone who has experienced the death of a spouse or partner. The conference is specifically designed to give you an opportunity to:

  • Commune with fellow widows and widowers. Hear each other’s stories, make new friends, and meet old friends.
  • Learn about loss and grief, setting goals, parenting grieving children, dating and new relationships, and dealing with the holidays.
  • Learn how to buy and maintain a car, the basics of home maintenance, and how to find a reliable handyman, plumber, or electrician.
  • Learn the importance of estate planning and updating legal documents.
  • Learn how to get organized financially, build a spending plan, and understand the basics of money management and answer that most important question, “Will I be OK, financially?”
  • Understand the basics of health and long-term care insurance.
  • Participate in several focus support groups during the conference which will focus on specific topics such as anger, guilt, dating and new relationships, abandonment by family and friends, coming home to an empty house, getting “stuck”, and finding a purpose.
  • View the documentary Walking Through Grief. Hosts Darcie Sims and Alan Pedersen along with a group of contributors share their journey toward hope after loss.
  • Talk with our many exhibitors and purchase any of dozens of books at our conference bookstore.

Who should attend? No matter if you are in your first year, two years out, or five years out, we will have topics and themes that address the issues you face now. Our weekly grief support groups, for example, have members attending who lost their spouses ranging from one month ago to seven years ago. They all benefit from attending the group, but for different reasons. Attendees are building community, no matter how far out they are. Think of the WCESS conference as a weekend-long support group. We are all there to support each other.

When is it?: Friday – Sunday, October 26-28, 2012.

  • Friday, 8:00am – 5:30pm, October 26, 2012: We start the first day with a quick introduction and then breakout into four concurrent sessions. We are planning two 1-hour support groups during the day with focused topics mentioned earlier. Lunch is provided.
  • Friday Evening: Ice Cream Ice Breaker for everyone attending.
  • Saturday, 8am – 6pm, October 27, 2012: Day Two of concurrent workshops, breakout sessions, and focus support groups. Saturday lunch is included and the day finishes around 6pm.
  • Sunday, 9am – 4pm, October 28, 2012: The third and last day of the Conference starts at 9am with another series of concurrent breakout sessions and focus support groups. Lunch is served and we finish the day with one more breakout session or focus support group followed by everyone attending a panel discussion on dealing with the holidays and a Remembrance Ceremony.

Where is it?: Arizona State University, Memorial Union Building, Tempe, Arizona. [MAP]

  • Maps – The main campus of Arizona State University (ASU) is located in Tempe, Arizona, in the Phoenix metropolitan area and just five miles from Sky Harbor Airport. The conference is held in the Memorial Union (MU) building on the main ASU campus. Address for the MU building is 310 E. Orange Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281. If you are using MapQuest to locate the building, MapQuest may point you just to the north of the MU building. Using the AT&T Maps application on an iPhone, the address for MU should point you just to the north side of the MU building as well. To orient yourself to the area use the following Map.
  • Memorial Union Building: The conference takes place on the 2nd floor of the Memorial Union Building. Here is a Memorial Union Building Layout. Each room on the layout with a WCESS logo is used during the conference. NOTE ABOUT THE TEMPERATURE IN THE MU BUILDING: It will get cold for many in the MU building. Please bring layers including a medium weight jacket. There is nothing that can be done about the temperature in the rooms. The entire building is connected to one air system.
  • Light Rail: The Valley Metro Light Rail system provides a convenient surface level rail system which can bring people from various parts of Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport, and portions of Mesa, straight to the northeastern corner of the main ASU campus, which is the University/Rural station. Use this link to obtain a Light Rail map, schedule, prices, and more information: http://www.valleymetro.org/metrolightrail/
  • Parking: The Apache Blvd parking garage is available for those driving to the conference. This parking garage is on the north side of Apache Blvd…just turn at the Normal Street traffic light. The visitor entrance to the Apache parking structure is on the north side of the structure. For Friday, tell the attendant you are attending the Widowed Community conference and they will direct you to reserved parking in the structure. Parking in the garage is $2/hr on Friday with a maximum charge of $8, and it is free on the weekends, including Homecoming weekend. Vehicles must be out of the parking garage by 10:30pm or a ticket will be issued. The MU building is 500 feet north of the parking garage. Parking is also available at Gammage Auditorium and various other parking lots. Gammage parking, on Fridays, requires a permit until 7pm, is free after 7pm on Fridays, and is free on the weekends (for Homecoming Saturday, if you park at Gammage prior to 2:30pm you can park for free and keep your car there all day. If you park after 2:30pm on Saturday you will be charged). PARKING MAP
  • We should have ample A-frame signs located in and around the MU building to point you in the direction of the conference.

Two Options for Registration: Each attendee can either choose to attend all three days or only the weekend on Saturday and Sunday. We are planning to schedule some speakers twice so that you can attend their second session if you missed the first session. However, we cannot guarantee that all sessions held Friday will also be held Saturday or Sunday. A detailed Schedule will be available as we finalize our speaker and facilitator line up.

What Does the Conference Cost?

  • Option #1 – $295 for all three days (Registration closes 10/27/12)
  • Option #2 – $225 for Saturday & Sunday (Registration closes 10/27/12)

Price includes the following:

  • Friday sessions, workshops, focus groups, and lunch (only for those registering for all three days)
  • Friday evening Ice Cream Ice Breaker! (for all attendees)
  • Saturday sessions, workshops, focus groups, and lunch (for all attendees)
  • Sunday sessions, workshops, focus groups, lunch, and Remembrance Ceremony

Accommodations: Accommodations are not included in the price of the conference but we have coordinated a special ASU rate of $100/night at the Four Points by Sheraton Tempe, located less than half a mile from the Memorial Union building on the ASU main campus. Four Points does have a shuttle which runs from 6am to 11pm every day of the week and can take you to and from the conference. You must schedule the shuttle 24 hours in advance with the front desk at Four Points (don’t forget to schedule both the outbound and return trip if needed). The Four Points address is 1333 Rural Road, Tempe, AZ 85281, and their phone is: (480) 968-3451. When calling for a room reservation, make sure you let them know you want the ASU room rate. NOTE: Four Points also has a AAA rate of $104/night which includes a full American breakfast. If you are a AAA member you may want to book your room using the AAA member rate.

Refund Policy: Prior to Oct 19, 2012 (one week prior to the start of the conference) a refund is available, minus a $50 service charge, if you are unable to attend, but you must contact us at 480.209.0564 with the refund request prior to 10/19/2012. On or after Oct 19, 2012, a refund of 50% will be provided if you are unable to attend. This policy is due to meal and other costs that must be paid by WCESS to vendors one week prior to the start of the conference and are not refundable to WCESS.

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Schedule | Speakers | Sponsors | Exhibitors

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