Savanah Pfaff, daughter of Frank and Andrea Pfaff, has always known a profession in counseling was in her future. Uncertain of the field in which she would specialize, Pfaff explored various areas throughout her studies. Abnormal Psychology, Counseling Seminar, and similar coursework offered by Dr. Scott Shaw, allowed her to delve into new and unique areas of Counseling as a career. Pfaff came to Grace Christian with the support of her family. “My family has always been very supportive of me attending a Christian university to receive a Psychology degree with a Christian worldview.”
Physiological Psychology, taught by Professor Dawn Rogers-Defauw, brought to light the extreme need of Grief Therapy. Over time Pfaff saw senior students volunteer and intern for a local non-profit named “Starlight Ministries.” Located in Hudsonville, Starlight’s mission is to be a place “where hope outshines grief.” Combining her coursework, mentorship from professors, and opportunities provided by Starlight Ministries, Pfaff’s states “it was meant to be”. Her time walking with those who are grieving the loss of loved ones to suicide has given Pfaff “a passion to walk with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and this is a path I definitely feel called to.”
“At Starlight Ministries, we really try to talk about death in a straight forward but loving way, to assist people in navigating through their feelings and emotions within group settings” stated Pfaff. This free service offered to people of all ages has a yearly budget built upon fundraised dollars. Currently, Pfaff is working with grief groups ages Pre K- Third grade, but is developing a young adult support group for ages 18-25 with the hopes of groups starting in 2022. Director of Programming for Starlight Ministries, Stephanie Hogan, shared “Starlight Ministries has been blessed to have Savanah as an intern these past several months. Savanah is passionate about helping people and has a heart for shining God’s hope into the lives of hurting people. She is a hard worker, go getter, and never shies away from a new experience even when it feels daunting. Savanah has been a true joy to work with!”
Every support group is permeated with the Bible, “To see the change in people as they come to a place where they are understood is so powerful. We are able to listen and present the hope of God and the eternal life that is given to each of us.” Joyful moments for Pfaff come in seeing healing begin, “This one little girl came to our group but was very quiet at first. After about six weeks she started to open up and eventually became the ringleader of the group, helping others to feel comfortable. She knew she was not alone in her grief and has now taken on a leadership role where she is helping others just like her. I went to help people but whenever I serve someone they actually help me to learn just as much, if not more, about the value of our stories and how we navigate feelings. Helping children work through their grief while learning about the Bible has been so enlightening and refreshing. My hope is that the work God has called me to do will rub off on the kids I walk alongside, so that they may grow up and serve others as well.”
Savanah Pfaff will graduate next month with a Bachelors in Psychology with a hope to work toward graduate studies soon after. Ms. Pfaff is finishing her internship by “leading through developing programs of grief support, while fulfilling one on one support as well.” Always reflective of her time at Grace Christian University, Pfaff states that a goal is to “bring more grief support programs back to Grace Christian one day after I graduate.” After her time here, Pfaff will seek full-time roles as a Children’s Grief Counselor.
Grace Christian University wishes Savanah Pfaff great success in her future as she finishes her degree this spring and launches into the world prepared to serve Christ in church and society. To learn more about Human Services offerings, visit On Campus School of Human Services or Online School of Human Services.
Written By: Kyle Bohl