Springfield, MO

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Karen Scott led Lost & Found as executive director for nearly a decade.
SBJ file photo
Karen Scott led Lost & Found as executive director for nearly a decade.

Lost & Found co-founder to retire

Posted online

Last edited 12:50 p.m., May 15, 2020

The co-founder of Lost & Found Grief Center has set her exit date from the 20-year-old nonprofit.

Karen Scott will retire as director of program development, following a nearly decade-long tenure as executive director, at the end of June. She’s worked full time at the nonprofit for 13 years.

“When I reflect on 20 years, I have a sense of amazement and gratitude,” Scott said this morning. “We never imagined that we would become a comprehensive grief center with the reputation we have nationally.

“When we first started, no one knew what a grief center was. It reflects the trust and support of this community.”

Lost & Found was co-founded by Scott and Askinosie Chocolate owner Shawn Askinosie in 2000, from the needs Scott saw as a therapist and school counselor and Askinosie’s personal grief after the death of his father when he was a teenager.

“She has been a healing force in our community and her work will reverberate for generations,” Askinosie said in a news release of Scott.

Scott said the nonprofit began with two grief support groups and minimal cash reserves, and today has a 10-person staff organizing 23 groups with a $500,000 operating budget.

“When we started, we were just trying to provide services to grieving children,” she said. “When I took over, we didn’t have enough cash to do payroll in six months. We were new and young. Now we are in a very good position financially.”

Scott pointed to a 2014 capital campaign that raised $2.3 million in nine months as a point of pride. The funds built Lost & Found’s current home at 1550 S. Glenstone Ave. But she said the relationships formed and the thousands of people served is her true passion.

“You develop an intimacy and a bond to walk them through the darkest hours,” she said. “Those are lifelong relationships.”

With her exit from the staff at Lost & Found, she’ll become a board member. Lost & Found Director of Development Jamie Fields said the nonprofit does not plan to immediately fill the director of program development role.

Scott said the staff had planned a public 20th anniversary celebration this month that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Support groups also have been moved from in-person to virtual meetings. She said when groups return, staff and attendees will wear mask and practice social distancing.

“I can’t envision counseling when you can’t see their face,” she said. “Participants are grateful to have that point of contact, but it’s not the same.”

And with the pandemic comes financial and mental health challenges, she said, which likely will increase the need for services. After the Great Recession, she said there was a 30% increase in demand for support from Lost & Found due to suicide.

“The more needs there are within a family, the more intense the work is so support them through their grief,” she said.

So what’s next for Scott? She said people have been asking her to write a book for years.

“We’ll see,” she said.


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