Shed celebrates 5 year anniversary


OREGON – It was five years ago in August that Serenity Hospice and Home opened The Shed in Oregon.

The idea was to give grieving people a chance to get together and work on projects. It is now an important part of the community.

Cathy Warren, bereavement coordinator and manager of The Shed, recently sat down to answer some questions about its the past, present and future. Warren stared at Serenity in April, 2008.

Question: What was the original idea of The Shed?

Answer: When people think of bereavement or grief groups, it seems that most of them picture very sad people sitting in a circle crying and sharing. And sometimes that is what a group is and that can be very effective, but some people are not comforted by this type of group.  Actually many people find that they find comfort when busy or productive using their hands or being creative. With this in mind, a widower in Australia started inviting the men from his hospice grief group to his garage to work on projects. Sometimes it was silent as then worked together on a project, but they worked together and that was what brought comfort.  Sometimes while they worked they began to talk and share. That was how the first concept of a “shed” type therapeutic place was born. This story was on YouTube and an employee at Serenity Hospice saw it and shared it with our CEO. It became a vision and a goal to try and create this type of center here in Oregon free and open to the public. 

Q: How has the reality been compared to the original idea?

A: I think the biggest surprise to us all was that we immediately saw that The Shed could help people experiencing any type of loss … not just death. Loss of a job, a relationship, loss of a way of life, loss of their youth … it became obvious from our first few encounters that this type of creative therapeutic work was healthy for anyone. We now have regular volunteers that come in and haven’t experienced any type of huge loss, they just enjoy the comradery and want to help Serenity Hospice. We try to make it a comfortable place to be. We have food and coffee and sitting areas that have nothing to do with working on a project. We have a retail room where the items are sold and we have a meeting room where we can talk privately with anyone. Another big surprise is that the two of us who run The Shed, Denise Watts and myself, were never that crafty and we have learned to operate equipment, paint, have visions for donated furniture and our own creative sides have flourished! Another surprise has been the response to our classes, particularly Ladies Night Out and our kids programs and camps. We have been able to team up with the Oregon Park District and offer some camps for grieving kids. Our plan for 2020 was to expand the programming for kids and teens and unfortunately covid-19 put a halt to that, but we look forward to the future when more younger people can be served by The Shed.

Q: What has surprised you the most about The Shed, or the reaction to it?

A: People are continually surprised that something so innovative and yet quite simple is available right here in the Oregon community and open to all the surrounding areas. The quality of our products are always surprising and once people purchase a piece of furniture or a decorative item or sign they always return for more. It’s also nice to have an alternative place to offer our grief groups instead of the hospice home. 

We also have had so many people stop by and say they have no creative spirit or craftiness, but it doesn’t take long until we find what that person is good at and it always surprises us and them!  Maybe they find out that their attention to detail makes them an excellent person to apply the top coat sealant or to do the initial sandpapering. Many people have surprised themselves by learning to use a handsaw to create stars or hats. We couldn’t operate without the generous donations of items such as spray paint, paintbrushes, etc… The Shed has something for everyone and way for everyone to help.

We are also finding that the stuff we make which is almost always one-of-a-kind items sells well at other venues. Currently you can find our items at Berryview Orchards in Mt. Morris.

Q: What programs does The Shed offer, and what is most popular?

We have had a very positive response to our creative classes, particularly Ladies Night Out and our kids programs and camps. We have been able to team up with the Oregon Park District and offer some camps for grieving kids and we had two camps planned for the summer with Pegasus Special Riders which have had to be put on hold. Our plan for 2020 was to expand the programming for kids and teens and unfortunately covid-19 put a halt to that, but we look forward to the future when more younger people can be served by The Shed.

We have hosted many programs at The Shed as well over the years from interior design classes to travel experiences. We hosted a very popular program featuring James and Karen Brown after their trip to Israel. We had food and wine tastings and they shared their experience. We have also been the meeting place for Girl Scout groups and other civic organizations. We have had Crest foods and other large corporations bring groups of employees and we have been a site for the Oregon High School service day. 

We also host many grief groups at The Shed during the day and evenings along with an 8-week course based on Dr. Wolfelt’s book which participants read at home and then discuss at our meetings. Many people like the idea of only committing to an 8-week group as opposed to an open-ended group.

The Shed also offers really impressive craftsmanship including beautiful wood urns for your pets or loved ones. These urns are made on-sight from beautiful wood grains and to your specifications. We also love to refinish your solid wood projects and we are always busy making holiday decorations. The Shed could not operate without the generosity of those people who stop by for a cup of coffee and help out by sweeping the floor or donating a can of spray paint or paintbrush.

Q: What does the future hold for The Shed?

Serenity Hospice is committed to keeping this resource available and we find comfort and motivation by the many lives impacted by The Shed. Sometimes people come and continue to come daily or weekly. Sometimes people stop by only once or maybe just a few times and that’s ok too.  We want to meet people where they are. There is no judgement at The Shed and people are accepted for who they are and where they are on their journey. The future at The Shed is exciting we have many great classes we are ready to host in the future. The Shed is a place for Oregon to be proud of and everyone should stop by, take a tour and be amazed by what is being accomplished right here in Northern Illinois.

#1  The children’s camp held in February for grieving children who recently lost a parent or sibling.  They swam, played games, learned pickleball, ate pizza, made crafts and spent some time exploring their grief.  Many volunteers train and work together to make this camp successful.  

#2 Patrick Keaty (center) and his sons Michael (left) and Jimmy (right).  Patrick and his family have been a part of The Shed from the beginning.  They are pictured here at the 5 year celebration.