Heather Neal, originally from Olympia, has called Tacoma home for some time. In fact, of all us Disco attenders, she may hold claim as Jon and Traci’s current closest neighbor. But don’t ask her how long she’s been attending Discovery. That’s where things get a little foggy. “I don’t really know, “ she replies. ”I went a few times when it was in the Galaxy Theater but the popcorn popping was just too distracting to me. I came back years later. So…maybe 10-11 years ago?” Clearly, Discovery has felt like a part of her life for so long, the years start to bleed into themselves. But what remains crystal clear are the things that matter most: her beautiful childhood, the spark that fanned the flame of her chosen career, one she‘s been doing for the past 15 years, and the first time she laid eyes on her daughter, Melaney, whom she adopted six years ago.
Favorite Childhood Memory?
Heather: Growing up, we lived on a dead-end road full of kids. We would play hide and seek for hours. All the front and back yards were options to hide and the sewer cover in the middle of the road was base. We would play until the street lights came on and all the parents came out. We always hoped they would get to talking so we could play longer. So fun!
Discovery Community Church: Heather, you have a story like so many others around here when it comes to making Discovery your community, in that it wasn’t a perfect match right from the jump. But now that you’ve been here for a while, looking back, what brought you back, and what’s kept you here all these years?
Heather Neal: I was looking for a church that had solid biblical teaching, welcomed people as they were and was invested in the community. I felt at home right away when I returned (after the popcorn attempt) and knew this was the place for me. I think I have stayed for many of the same reasons. Plus, I love my church family.
DCC: That’s awesome. I feel similarly. I just love these people! Ok, let’s dive right in. You are a grief counselor. Whew. How does one get involved in that?
HN: I have my MSW (Masters in Social Work). When I was in grad school there was a class on death and dying. Like ONE SINGLE three-hour evening. During the class people were getting up and leaving, they were so uncomfortable. I found it interesting and thought I needed to explore that.
DCC: Did the reality of what the career entailed hit you differently than you were anticipating?
HN: I think for anyone doing this work, it feels like a calling. It feels like an honor to walk with people as they navigate what feels like their darkest time, knowing there is hope and a future when they are not yet able to see how that could be possible. And then watching them as they discover what their new life looks like.
DCC: That is so powerful and so humbling to be able to hold space for others in such a tender moment.
Favorite Childhood Memory?
Melaney: When we went to Buffalo to visit friends and I got to swim in one of the fountains and pick up all of the change. (At this point, it should be noted that Melaney rolled her eyes)