Mourning Joy provides services to individuals seeking a life coach approach for grief intervention and recovery. Mourning Joy ‘Certified Grief Life Coaches’ establish coach-client relationships that promote forward movement from grief to healing to hope, with use of the International Coach Federation core principles as taught through the Institute of Professional Grief Coaching. Mourning Joy staff evaluate individual needs, with supplementary services that preserve human dignity and secure safety within the community.
To EQUIP grieving individuals with essential tools for healing
To ESTABLISH positive relationships that transition individuals from grief to hope
To EVALUATE individual needs and offer community resources
To PROVIDE compassionate intervention for grieving individuals
To EMPOWER individuals with grief-coping skills
To RESTORE individuals to community inclusion and participation
For every accomplishment there is an inspiration, a dream. Sonja R Camden, Founder & President of MOURNING JOY is often described as a visionary; a dreamer of the possible for the impossible. What was once a dream became a reality in 2021. Mourning Joy was incorporated in Appleton, WI in April, 2021 and received its 501(c)3 nonprofit approval on December 8, 2021.
Sonja first encountered grief as a seven-year-old child. She discovered her biological mother collapsed and nonresponsive in the home while her father was at work. Ten to fourteen days later Sonja’s mother passed away. This forever changed Sonja’s life, yet a sweet loving family accepted her, her brother and father as their own, and Sonja was loved, adopted and cared for while growing up.
After Sonja married, she had four children with the third child, Matthew, born with profound Cerebral Palsy and intensive care needs throughout his life. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 29. Matthew was a gift beyond description. He was a teacher, yet he could not speak like his peers. His only word was “Momma.”
Through the lifelong encounters with grief and in the most recent years of a global pandemic and its impact on her family, Sonja felt led to transition from serving as a social work professional in vocational rehabilitation to that of services specific to grief and mourning. Most recently, Sonja completed a grief certification program from the ICF accredited Institute of Professional Grief Coaching in Washington D.C. to pave a compassionate way for those held captive to the pain of grief, a topic that often stays in the closet of our lives with the natural human propensity to push through life regardless of how our losses impede quality of life.
Sonja realizes that grief presents in many areas of life and often goes unrecognized and unaddressed. Overall, most would agree that we live in a grief avoidance society where pain is held from within for long periods of time and outwardly expressed mourning is never achieved in a way which brings forth life-giving change. This includes grief brought on by death aging, divorce, health complications, loss of employment and more.
Sonja’s heart feels particularly drawn to those that have suffered pandemic losses. These involve family loss in many forms with so many variables, but also the grief suffered by the medical community, to include physicians, specialists, nurses, social workers, allied health professionals, first responders, and the funeral home industry. Many of them still struggle with daily anticipatory grief and then ultimate grief as a result of frequent patients’ deaths here in the United States and around the world.
Thus, MOURNING JOY now embarks on a Christian-Biblical path to help mitigate bring hope to those suffering with grief; for grief is what we that so many cannot escape in this life. Although these are circumstances we may want to avoid, in their wake many recognize the need for a special ‘certified grief life coach’ to guide the grief-filled journey that will lift them from grief to healing to hope through active mourning with a Christian approach.
Sonja R Camden, CPGC, MSSW
Diane L Wegner, MA
Teresa A Newsom, Ret. USAF
George Galicia, RN
Sonja R Camden, CPGC, MSSW – Founder & President
Diane L Wegner, MA – VP Secretary & Treasurer
Gil Ruiz, BA – VP Supplemental Services
Megan Villagomez, BBA – VP Business Operations
Carol Lord Paul, BA - VP International Relations: UK
Heather R Venable – Volunteer Coordinator
Fran Osborn, LPC-S - Parliamentarian
Teresa Newsom, Ret. USAF, AA, Member-at-Large
Faith Groves, BA, Member -at-Large
Charlene Dungan, MSSW, Member-at-Large
Tom L Roberts, PhD
Vicki Gilliam, EdD
John Wieland, CPA
Angela Gwinn, LPC
George Galicia, RN
Emily Anderson, BA
Sonja holds both a Bachelor and Master's of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Having been the parent of a son diagnosed at birth with multiple profound disabilities, she was inspired to begin her career within the Garland Independent School District as a Special Education Aide, and ultimately as a business entrepreneur. As a Program Coordinator, and then with the incorporation of two businesses that provide employment rehabilitation services for those with disabilities, Sonja’s passion since 2007 has been dynamic and personally fulfilling. As a result of the last several years and the global pandemic, Sonja felt inspired to seek out certification as a Grief Life Coach through the ICF accredited Institute of Professional Grief Coaching. Sonja and the Founding Board of Directors incorporated Mourning Joy, Inc. as a nonprofit charitable organization that speaks to the hearts of those suffering with grief due to personal loss of many types, to include death. Sonja understands grief, as she lost her biological mother at age seven, and her son with disabilities in 2012. In addition to her life-long faith and being the mother of four beautiful children, and six grandchildren, Sonja’s hobbies include reading, music, documentaries, collecting anything British, traveling, and time with family and friends whether in person or virtual since the pandemic. To learn more about Sonja's grief journey throughout her life, feel free to visit her blog at http://setfreebymourning.org.
Diane earned her Masters in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI in 2000. As a licensed educator and high school teacher she taught 17 years in the inner city of Milwaukee. She acquired vast knowledge of skills and empathy for the students with disabilities who were fully integrated into her classes. She also has extensive experience as a trained mediator, having served as a volunteer for the Milwaukee Victim Offender Reconciliation Program from 1986-1991. As a volunteer she facilitated meetings for perpetrators of crimes who were on parole to mediate with their victims to achieve a restitution that ended their parole. Diane also facilitated the structure and education needed to establish student-to-student (peer) mediation programs in twenty-five schools in the Milwaukee area. On the business side, Diane did communications training and conflict resolution for a large health care system in the Milwaukee area for 5 years. With this strong background in communications, mediation, and education, Diane understands the importance of and has the skills to build a positive rapport with the consumer and to also build a relationship of honesty and trust with both consumer and employer. Diane has been President & Founder of Camden & Wegner, Inc. (dba: Lifestream) for the past six years. A business which holds a state contract with the Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development. She continues to provide supported employment, job coaching, and job placement for state referred clients that need reasonable accommodations within the workplace. Diane's understanding of this field is enhanced by the fact that she has had a life-long visual disability. Diane relaxes by bicycling, traveling, reading, and playing golf.
Gil was born into a large, loving and impoverished family in San Antonio, Texas. He tells the story of being 10 years old and on Christmas Day standing in his home with no tree, gifts or food in the house. Suddenly a van of church people arrived and filled the house with a tree, decorations, gifts and bags of groceries. When Gil saw the look of joy on the faces of his younger siblings he vowed to take every opportunity to do anything he could for others.
Gil devoted his life to service and especially to the underserved. He joined the Navy out of high school and served 8 years. He then attended and graduated from Rosary College in River Forest, IL., with his degree in business administration. His early employment involved working to protect the rights of those imprisoned with mental health diagnosis. Later he transitioned to finding employment for those with disabilities and was especially successful with those with profound issues.
In working with those who were challenged with life-long disabilities and mental issues, Gil felt they were teaching him how to embrace joy, love and care for others. He often mentions how people were put into his life throughout his journey that made a positive difference and his mantra is to give back wherever he can. He is bringing this rich background and experience to Mourning Joy. In his spare time, Gil relaxes by cooking, traveling and cruising on his motorcycle.
Megan began her years of employment at an early age and in the service of the city of Waco, Texas helping to secure housing for those who were underserved. Her life dedicated to serving others was based on her formative years of challenge and insecurity. Her own struggles inspired her to try to help others find a path of dignity and progress. Along the way Megan earned her business degree from Purdue University, married and raised her children. In addition to her service in the business realm, Megan has been mindful of health and wholeness in doing massage therapy. Most recently she provides protection for families through her life insurance business. Megan’s passion and expertise in serving others is equal only to her exemplary singing ability, having led her church choir for many years. Relaxation for Megan is doing anything on a beach with the waves making their own music under a wide open sky.
Carol joins Mourning Joy as VP of International Relations. She was born in London, England, yet came to the United States in 1972 with her family. As the VP of International Relations, Carol brings a rich and diverse experience in terms of cultural and ethnic diversity. Having lived both in the United States and England brings a deep understanding to Mourning Joy as grief life coaching is provided with virtual technology regardless of where one lives. After Carol married the love of her life, and had three beautiful sons, she, along with her family, returned to England in 1994. Carol's faith is the compass for which guides her entire life. As a dedicated born-again-believer she holds fast to the belief that "there is no pit too deep where God's love is not deeper still." After raising her children, Carol graduated with honors from the University of Wolverhampton with a major in English and Creative Writing. As a result of completing her education, Carol is both a speaker, and author of her first book entitled "For Conscience Sakes." Carol's leisure time activities include reading, writing, and listening to 'jazz gospel.' Yet more importantly, she enjoys time with her family whenever possible.
Fran Osborn comes to Mourning Joy with life-long experience, both personally and professionally as it relates to disabilities, and grief. Born with at-birth blindness, Fran has achieved remarkable milestones, to include a Master of Counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Fran worked for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services for over twenty-five years, upon which time she incorporated her personal counseling business named Dallas Area Insight Counseling, Inc. Fran holds a professional license to both diagnose and supervise new counselors entering the profession. She serves people from all walks of life in terms of both their personal and mental health needs. Fran is a strong advocate, with a philosophy that all things are possible if one believes with their heart and works diligently until their dreams unfold. Fran is very active within the community, with her hobbies including reading, social activities, caring for her wonderful guide dog, walking, and spending time with family and friends when time permits. You can learn more about Fran and her counseling business on her Facebook webpage for Dallas Area Insight Counseling, Inc.
Heather has studied Criminal Justice through Capella University. Her career includes a work ethic that employers value, thus, she dedicated many years to Eagle Communications in the radio industry, and now after relocating to the state of Wisconsin she is an Account Manager for a locally owned business in the Fox Valley. One of Heather’s most impressive skills are that of communication with others and organizing events through networking and resourcing. Heather understands technology, and provides an excellent skill set to a for profit or nonprofit organization. Heather has provided in-home caregiving for the disabled and understands grief through personal family experience. She is the mother of two wonderful adult children, and two beautiful grandchildren that she adores. Heather’s hobbies include cooking, traveling, concerts, and spending time with her family and friends whenever time permits.
Teresa comes to Mourning Joy with a distinguished and honorable twenty-five-year career serving our country in the United States Air Force. She was deployed several times during her tenure to Afghanistan and Iraq and witnessed the loss of many comrades through the years because of war-time service; both through death and acquired disabilities. Upon retirement, Teresa returned home to Texas and completed an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Social Services. Her personal losses are profound, as her sister, Karen, passed away tragically at age twenty due to a car accident and lost her baby. Karen was near full term. This devastating loss still impacts family and friends. In 2017, Teresa’s sister, Sandra, passed away suddenly at age 45 as the result of an ongoing illness. Teresa understands and empathizes with grief in a professional and personal way that few may ever experience or understand. Her hobbies include reading, jogging, traveling, volunteering, and most importantly time spent with family and friends. Most important to Teresa is her faith. Her faith is one lived out with love of neighbor demonstrated with anyone in need and all those she encounters.
In 1990, I married my husband, Harvey Groves. We have 2 daughters and went on to adopt a son; in addition, we have a beautiful granddaughter and a grandson. Having done many courses over the years, in 2018 I graduated with a BA Degree in Business Studies. The highlight of my experience in education was attending a part-time Bible School in 2006-2007, achieving a Diploma in Discipleship Studies. In 2013, I attended Millennium Bible School UPC GB&I for a year, where I also graduated with a Certificate in Christian Theology and Leadership. At the time I worked as a volunteer Associate Pastoral Chaplain at Salford College.
I have worked alongside my husband as a Pastor’s wife over the years. The call of God into ministry has also been upon my life, and I am now a licensed minister, serving in various capacities such as the Central District Ladies Leader of our organization. Having tragically losing our son by sudden death almost 4 years ago, I thank God that my faith in Him has remained intact and has helped me through those tough times. I take comfort from God’s word: Isaiah 41:10, ‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’ I currently work as a Medical Secretary, and on a personal note, I love to read and listen to Gospel music.
Charlene Dungan has an immense ability to work with those who have adversity in their life and is currently working with adults who have disabilities. She believes that everything happens for a reason and that God has placed her exactly where she needs to be. To help a local business, Charlene volunteered her time to assist with its mission, which was to provide job skill training to those who are disabled. She also developed their social media plan and gave future recommendations.
Charlene has a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and Journalism with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (U.W. Oshkosh). Through her degree in anthropology, she developed cultural empathy and a better understanding of people. Charlene completed two emphases in journalism, one in writing/editing and the other is visual, including social media, website development, and photography. She also has knowledge and understanding of domestic violence. After her husband was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from combat, she decided that she wanted to reach out to other veterans and their families.
While earning her journalism degree, she received the Outstanding Returning Adult Student Award for designing a website to educate and assist families with PTSD. In 2019 she earned her Master's degree in Social Work from U.W. Oshkosh and completed her internship at the United States Department of Veteran's Affairs. She also interned at the U.W. Oshkosh Women's Center, where she worked with the LGBTQ community and is an ally for women and gender minorities. Charlene has experienced grief with losing both of her parents to cancer and recently a friend and family member to covid. She loves watching movies, traveling, and spending time with her family and her six beautiful grandchildren.
Mourning Joy is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. All US donations may be tax deductible. EIN 86-3064238. Out of country donations must contact your local tax authority.
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