Dorenzer Thomas: Roberta’s House, Faith, Music and Grief

 

Dr. Gloria Horsley connects with Dorenzer Thomas of to talk about how faith and music can be integral to the healing process. She’s the Youth Coordinator of Programming and works closely with children and families who are bereaved. Located in Baltimore, Roberta’s House is the only such grief center in the area. Thomas also holds an office in her church, and she’s chairman of the church council. She says spirituality is essential, and the bible is used at times in Roberta’s House. However, everyone needs someone to talk to when going through a loss.

If you have faith in your life, finding support that encourages that connection is important. Thomas says Roberta’s House is located in the heart of the community. Even though Baltimore is a big city, it’s still a small town in many ways. There’s also quite a bit of music used in grief and religion. It’s essential and a tool used in therapeutic grief. In the church, music is used to inspire and lift spirits.

Closer to God

Grief therapy and music help people connect to themselves, to God, and to their community. It’s a part of the human experience, and sometimes people can sing easier than they can talk and share emotions. There’s also art and other forms of creative strategies to help with healing at the Center. Thomas encourages anyone who has experienced a loss to remember that loss is a normal part of our lives.

Remember the great things about your loved one and connect with others. You can use grief as a tool to inspire yourself to move forward and live a better life. At the end of the day, it’s what’s in your heart that matters and how you spend your time here on Earth.

 

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Jessica Tyner Mehta

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Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of numerous books including poetry, fiction, short story collections, and creative non-fiction. Her novel The Wrong Kind of Indian won gold at the 2019 Independent Book Publisher Awards (IPPYs). She’s received several writer-in-residency posts around the world, including the Hosking Houses Trust post with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), the National Parks Art Foundation at Gettysburg National Military Park, and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR). Jessica received a Halcyon Art Labs fellowship in Washington DC from 2018-19 to curate an anthology of poetry by incarcerated and previously incarcerated indigenous women and is also a member of the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator co-hort in Chicago. She is the recipient of a 40 Under 40 Award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), received a Barbara Deming Award in Poetry, and was a Top 10 Pick from Portland Story Theatre for “Indian Burns.” She serves as the Associate Poetry Editor for Exclamat!on, a British peer-reviewed journal, Associate Poetry Editor for Bending Genres literary journal, poetry editor at Airlie Press, and is the former President of the Board of Directors for VoiceCatcher journal and non-profit. Jessica has led writing workshops around the globe including at the International Women’s Writing Guild summer conference series and has taught poetry at various institutions including The Loft Literary Center. She has received numerous visiting fellowships, including the Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship at The Lilly Library at University of Indiana Bloomington and The Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship at The British Library. Jessica’s doctoral research focuses on the intersection of poetry and eating disorders. During her time as a post-graduate researcher, she received a Researcher-led Initiative Award and Humanities PGR Activities Award from the University of Exeter. Jessica founded MehtaFor, a writing services company, in 2012 which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. MehtaFor received two national bronze awards for Startup of the Year in 2015. Jessica offers complimentary writing services to Native American students and non-profits based in the Pacific Northwest and/or serving Native communities. She received her master’s degree in writing from Portland State University in 2007 and established The Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013. It’s the only scholarship exclusively for Native Americans pursuing an advanced degree in writing or a related field. Jessica is also a registered yoga instructor (500-RYT®), registered children’s yoga teacher (RCYT®), certified Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP®), and NASM-certified personal trainer (CPT). She’s the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga and strength movement, which offers free classes to groups that don’t have access to traditional yoga studios and/or don’t feel comfortable in such environments.

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