Success Stories · Oct 3rd, 2022
Many of us have felt the grief of losing someone we love. It can be a painful, confusing, and lonely time. Sometimes it happens suddenly, shocking us with pain and situations we weren’t prepared to handle. Dustin’s Place in Plymouth, Ind. tries to ease that pain and absorb some of the shock by simply offering support and the opportunity to talk with someone who understands what you’re going through.
“At Dustin’s Place our mission is to make sure no one grieves alone,” said Viki Brown, executive director of Dustin’s Place. “Grief can be extremely isolating, and grief can be extremely lonely. We are here to facilitate conversations and allow people to realize they are not the only ones experiencing this vast array of emotions that comes along with grief.”
Brown’s former husband, Dustin Cullen, is the inspiration for Dustin’s Place. He was devoted to Viki and their three young children, but his life was cut short at the age of 34. He died in a single car accident while driving home from work in 2016. Viki suddenly lost her life partner and best friend. Three young children lost their daddy.
“I had never walked through a death that just didn’t make sense to me,” said Brown. “And, at the time we had three very young children. Our oldest was six, Liliana was five, and our baby was not even one yet. I was a teacher, and I knew what untreated childhood trauma looked like in the classroom and I knew that my children needed support.”
Brown says they received plenty of love and help from family and friends, but she felt her children needed more. She looked and looked for support groups but struggled to find any. Eventually they found a children’s grief support group which they attended together. She says the connections they made with other grieving families helped them begin to heal. The experience opened Viki’s eyes to the need for more help.
“Through my own journey with my children I realized the great need for children’s grief support,” said Brown. “So many children are walking this grief journey alone, and then there are parents like myself, who are left to grieve and walk along side their children, so the need was huge, and thankfully we were able to create Dustin’s Place.”
Located in one of the Plymouth Community Church buildings at 11802 Lincoln Highway East, Dustin’s Place opened in January of 2020. Every other Monday night It provides peer grief support groups for children, teens, and adults. A team of volunteers facilitates the group discussions and helps run the organization. Everything is free to those who need it, including a dinner that is served just before the groups get together.
“On night one (January,2020) we had 14 children, tonight (January,2022) we will have 68. So, in two years’ time we have just exploded,” said Brown. “And 1st Source has been with us since the very beginning. They walked in with us when we had little to no business knowledge. They have really supported us.”
That support included a $5,000 grant from the 1st Source Foundation in 2021. Money that will pay expenses and help keep Dustin’s Place a valuable community resource for Plymouth and the surrounding area for many years to come.