For four decades, the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing has assisted Washington, D.C., communities in coping with loss, violence, and other emotionally challenging experiences. To this end, the nonprofit organization facilitates candlelight vigils during which friends and family members can commemorate their loved ones, acknowledging their grief in a healthy manner while honoring the lives of those they have lost.
The Lights of Hope program creates collective community experiences where individuals can join together in remembrance. Gathering just after sunset, attendees may choose to recite poems or prayers, sing, or invite public or religious officials to offer words of guidance and comfort. The program, which is available to all residents of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, provides attendees with candles, drip guards, and event programs. Lights of Hope also supplies informative materials that offer guidance on coping with traumatic loss, as well as commemorative programs and cleanup materials.
When planning their Lights of Hope vigils, individuals and families work with volunteer coordinators to develop an event outline and assign a facilitator to organize the gathering. The Wendt Center’s trained crisis-response volunteers may also provide vigil leadership and support, and when deemed necessary for the safety of participants, program volunteers can arrange for the presence of local police officers.