Volunteer Spotlight: Ashley Plotnick

For National Volunteer Week, we’re highlighting the incredible work of our volunteers. We’ll be showcasing short interviews with our volunteer grief workers to share their wisdom and express our gratitude for their commitment to supporting pandemic grievers. 

Name: Ashley Plotnick
Age: 40
Location: Deerfield, IL
Profession: Psychotherapist, Spiritual Director, Jewish Educator

Why do you volunteer with COVID Grief Network (CGN)?
I initially signed up to volunteer with CGN because I wanted some way to contribute meaningfully during such an overwhelming period of grief and instability in our world. However, the impact of CGN continues to amaze me beyond my expectations. From my very first training with the founders, it was clear the network is truly something special. There is an authentic commitment to growth, healing, spaciousness, and collaboration that is a gift both to the volunteers and to the young adults. That unique energy inspires me to continue to say yes to the work.

What has supporting young adults in our network taught you?
I have learned so much from the young adults in our network. Their capacity for vulnerability, truth, and presence is so strong even in the midst of so much pain. I also am in awe of the group which I am honored to facilitate. These young adults show up week after week to hold space for that which is both true and hard. By doing so, they create space not only for their own healing journey, but for the healing of their peers as well.

Do you have a message for young adults in grief?
To our young adults: You are utterly brave as you walk through the darkness of this time.

Jan Richardson says it best in her poem “Stay:”

I know how your mind
rushes ahead
trying to fathom
what could follow this.
What will you do,
where will you go,
how will you live?
You will want
to outrun the grief.
You will want
to keep turning toward
the horizon,
watching for what was lost
to come back,
to return to you
and never leave again.
For now
hear me when I say
all you need to do
is to still yourself
is to turn toward one another
is to stay.
and see what comes
to fill
the gaping hole
in your chest.
Wait with your hands open
to receive what could never come
except to what is empty
and hollow.
You cannot know it now,
cannot even imagine
what lies ahead,
but I tell you
the day is coming
when breath will
fill your lungs
as it never has before
and with your own ears
you will hear words
coming to you new
and startling.
You will dream dreams
and you will see the world
ablaze with blessing.
Wait for it.
Still yourself.

What’s your preferred method of self-care?
Laughter, dance parties with my kids, walking my dog, connecting with friends, and lavender baths.

Are you interested in volunteering with the COVID Grief Network? Learn more and apply here.