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Turning Loss into Love

Local family joins forces with nonprofit to help people navigate grief journeys

“We have made a conscious effort to choose joy over despair.” 

For Shyla Magee, that joy is evident when she talks about her children: 5-year-old Bryce, 2-year-old Sadie Mae, 4-month-old Rhee, and Colt, her son who passed away in 2019 when he was just 17 months old.

“Our family will always feel the weight of our loss,” said Magee. “It will never go away. It is easier to choose hopelessness, but I encourage other families who have experienced loss to make every effort to see the good in their circumstances and to continue to live the best life they can in honor of their loved ones.”

Magee, a Las Vegas-based realtor, and her husband RJ, who is the Vice President of Operations at Sierra LLC Air Conditioning & Heating, said what has helped her family cope with the grief and loss is by giving back to a nonprofit that stepped up to help them during their most difficult days.

“Adam’s Place was there for us after we lost Colt,” said Magee. “They provided us with resources, articles, and contacts to help us work through, not only our grief, but also our other son’s grief as well. Our son Bryce was just 3 when his little brother passed away.”

Adam’s Place is a 501(c)3 nonprofit launched in 2009 by Kelly Boyers after she lost her teenage son in a car accident. Since then, the organization has provided peer support and emotional/social learning tools to more than 2000 kids, teens, and families. The organization’s signature program is “Camp Cope,” which consists of virtual and in-person sessions where kids, broken up into different age groups, work with trained facilitators to navigate their grief journeys.

“Through Camp Cope, Bryce was able to meet other children who have also experienced loss,” said Magee. “We noticed that he spoke more about his little brother after he went through the sessions, which gave us some peace in the midst of the storm.”

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the community,” said Kelly Boyers. “And the Magee’s are definitely a big part of that.”

Boyers shared that since the Magees came to Adam’s Place, the family had supported her nonprofit in a variety of ways. Shyla and RJ have volunteered their time at many of Adam’s Place’s community events including their annual fundraiser Build Strong Hearts 5K. The Magee family has also contributed financially to Adam’s Place over the years.

“The financial support from local businesses is crucial for us to keep offering our programs and services at NO cost to our families. With them going through the most challenging times, we want to take that worry off their shoulders. And for us to do that, we need help from businesses as well as local governments.”

That help has also come from people like Las Vegas City Council Member Brian Knudsen who has supported funding to help expand the In-School Camp Cope program. This is the extension to the original Camp Cope to help kids in Clark County School District deal with losses that extend to things like deportations and incarcerations. 

“Our goal is to help as many children in our community as we can,” said Boyers. “And the partnerships with local educators and schools are crucial.”

Adam’s Place was recently named “Outstanding Community Organization” of the year by the Nevada School Counselor Association. The nonprofit is recognized for providing superior partnership and support to school counselors in their community, especially through the pandemic.

For Magee, she said she’s happy to see this nonprofit grow and help more people in Southern Nevada. This as her own family is also growing in love and strength. 

“Since Colt's loss, our family has expanded by adding two beautiful children to our family. By no means do they replace Colt, but they do bring happiness when we are sad. We still talk about our son on a daily basis, and they know about their big brother in heaven.”