Meadowlark Retreats

The death of a child feels unnatural. Mothers are not wired to survive their children. One of the only paths through healing is to be with other mothers who are on the same journey.
—Shelly Gillan, Meadowlark Retreat Facilitator and Director of Client Services at Kara
In April 2010, we launched the first Meadowlark Retreat, a grief support weekend retreat for mothers who had suffered the sudden loss of a child. In 2014, we launched our first retreat for fathers. Today, Meadowlark Retreats continue to honor and comfort mothers and fathers as they learn to deal with their new way of life—a life without a child they adored—providing much-needed support as they live the unthinkable and try to see their way to hope.

The weekend retreats are designed to provide intentional and loving care. From nutritious and lovingly prepared meals to the peaceful surroundings, we support participants both physically and emotionally. By attending to every detail with compassion, we create a place of safety, caring and validation. Participants know that when they share their grief it will be understood on a visceral level by a community of other parents who are offering support and empathy.

Over the course of the weekend, mothers and fathers participate in multiple facilitated grief group sessions. Using skilled facilitation, grief counselors guide them through sharing their thoughts, fears, anger, sadness, confusion and despair. Grieving parents can share without fear of judgment—there is space for every thought and feeling.

Between sessions, participants have free time to continue sharing with each other, take alone time, enjoy nature and find additional support. The retreat facilitators truly cater to the needs of all those in attendance. If a participant can benefit from an individual session, facilitators split up to provide the personal support that is needed.


2019 Retreat Schedule

Mother's Retreat: February 22 – February 24 | Sebastopol, CA - Download Flyer [pdf]

Mother's Retreat: April 26 - April 28 | Sebastopol, CA  - Download Flyer [pdf]

Mother's Retreat: September 20 - September 22 | Sebastopol, CA  - Download Flyer [pdf]

Father's Retreat: October 11 - October 13 | Sebastopol, CA  - Download Flyer [pdf]

Meet our Facilitators

Leslie Chin, MA, MBA, Retreat Planner and Co-Facilitator
Bringing over six years of grief support experience, Leslie Chin currently facilitates learning and support groups in a variety of venues, from Stanford Graduate Schools and private liberal arts colleges to nonprofit grief counseling organizations.  In her corporate work, she founded and managed regional offices in California and London for WFD, a $100 million consulting, community investment and employee services firm addressing work-life balance needs, and managed national HR generalist functions for Citibank.  Early in her career she set up and ran transit operations for Indochinese and Cuban refugees. Leslie holds an MBA and BS in Applied Mathematics from Stanford University and an MA in Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Shelly Gillan, MFT, Retreat Client Screening and Co-Facilitator
Shelly Gillan is the Director of Programs and Client Services at Kara, a center providing grief support to individuals, families and community organizations. She provides participant screening and co-facilitation for the Meadowlark Retreats in addition to serving on our Board. Kara is also available for follow-up services if clients desire ongoing grief support. Shelly has worked with families, teens and adults for over 20 years, with particular experience with anticipatory death and parents grieving the death of a child. Shelly has a BA in psychology and child development and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Jim Santucci, CPA, Executive Director of Kara Grief Support for Children, Teens, Families & Adults
Jim serves as the Executive Director of Kara and was a past recipient of its grief support services.  He has a passion for ensuring those in our community navigating grief and loss receive the empathetic support they need. Since 2011 he has been a group facilitator for parents who have suffered the loss of a young child. His previous non profit work includes time as Manager of Advancement Operations for Children's Health Council in Palo Alto and over 19 years of experience in operations management for two faith-based organizations. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and also is a Certified Public Accountant. His additional volunteer work includes serving on the board of the Children's Hospice & Palliative Care Coalition and participating in the Family Partners Group of the Lucile Packard Family Guidance & Bereavement Program.

Carolyn Yates, Director of Learning and Development at Google
Carolyn has been instrumental in building out their innovative learning and executive leadership development programs. Her expertise in this field expanded to grief work when her dear friend’s son, Tim Griffith was killed. After feeling and seeing the impact and isolation that loss can create, she was committed to helping Stacey with the development of a program that would uniquely help Mothers that have lost a child. Carolyn is the VP of the Tim Griffith Foundation and founding Board member. She has her BS degree from California Sac State and has completed Kara’s grief counseling program. She also manages a micro farm in Sebastopol where our retreats are held.

Stacey Redman, President and Founder of the Tim Griffith Foundation
Stacey is a Bay Area native and graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. Stacey has worked in Human Resources for over 25 years at various San Francisco Bay Area companies such as Autodesk, Levi Strauss, Mervyns and Oral B Laboratories. She has a grown son who also resides in Redwood City. Stacey was most recently VP of  HR for Autodesk. In addition to founding and leading the Foundation, she has been a “Big Sister” in the Big Brother Big Sister’s program, and is a trained  peer grief counselor through  Kara in Palo Alto. She has served on  the Advisory Boards of the Service League of San Mateo County, as well as Crime Victims United of California.

Maria Segal

Want to learn more? Watch a video about the Foundation's Meadowlark Retreats.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Meadowlark Retreats please contact Stacey Redman at