Grief Reach award winners share perspective on grant’s impact.

For the seventh year in a row, the New York Life Foundation in partnership with the National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) is proud to offer the Grief Reach grant program, an initiative that helps deliver support services to disadvantaged grieving youth and families across the country. This year, forty-two Grief Reach grants totaling $1.25 million will be awarded to organizations serving bereaved youth through a Request for Proposals (RFP). The second application cycle is now open and will run through August 7th, 2017.

Below we spoke with two past Grief Reach award winners - The Resiliency Center of Newtown and Kara – to learn more about their organization’s mission and how the grant has impacted their work.

A Q&A with Stephanie Cinque, MSW, Founder and Executive Director of The Resiliency Center of Newtown

Please tell us about your organization's mission and services/offerings.
The Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN) offers trauma-informed, therapeutic services focused on long-term individual and community healing for children and adults impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook School on December 14, 2012. We provide services at no-cost to the community to ensure everyone has the option for treatment at RCN if they wish. Currently, most insurance policies do not cover the therapies we offer such at Play/Art/Music Therapy, Brainspotting and MNRI.

What has the Grief Reach grant enabled your organization to do?
By getting the grant we were able to maintain our services after our Department of Justice grant ended for the bereaved children of the Newtown-Sandy Hook community and meet the increased demand of those looking for services.

How has the Grief Reach grant impacted the children and families you serve?
The grant has helped us maintain our therapies that allow our clients to receive appropriate services and help them move from trauma processing to grief processing. The children we serve have been able to move forward showing reduced symptoms in anxiety and depression having an overall better sense of themselves and more positive outlook on life.

Is there a particular story or anecdote about the Grief Reach grant's impact on a child or family that you’d like to share?

“ First off, thank you for seeing her so quickly. She said she was happy I brought her to spend time with you. She slept so much better last night. She seemed so much more peaceful than she has been lately. I know she has some work to do, but your support and gentle reminders of the tools she already has, will help her navigate all of this.” - From a mother of a child seen at RCN

A Q&A with Jim Santucci, CPA, Executive Director of Kara

Please tell us about your organization's mission and services/offerings.
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976, Kara provides comprehensive grief support, crisis response and education to individuals and organizations facing the difficult realities of grief and loss. Guided by empathy, every day we offer care, compassion, connection and community to grieving children and adults and provide a space for deep relief in the company of others. Through a time-tested and highly effective peer based service model (adopted from the Shanti Model), over 150 volunteers guided by our professional staff, serve and support others on their journey through grief so they can move toward renewed hope and meaning.

What has the Grief Reach grant enabled your organization to do?
The Grief Reach grant has enabled us to expand our services for children and families beyond our agency’s on-site offerings. The funds are supporting our newest program initiative, the Journeys Program, which provides school-based grief support to students, their families and school staff. Services include onsite grief support groups for students, parent/caregiver support and education sessions, and staff grief training and support, as well as crisis response services in the event of a school community loss. Our goal is to serve 3 schools within the next two years.

How has the Grief Reach grant impacted the children and families you serve?
Our initiative has had a positive impact on the families we serve by providing a level of unique support that schools typically do not have the capacity to provide. The following quotes from a student participant and school counselor highlight the power of providing grief support on-site at the school location.

Student Group Participant (aunt died by suicide)
“ The group really helped me know that I'm not the only one and that there are people who actually care about you and will help you.” --middle school girl

School counselor (who participated as a co-facilitator with our Kara staff member)
“ The group experience was an incredibly healing experience for our students; my students who were unable to talk about their feelings gave themselves permission to enter this process with their peers.”

Is there a particular story or anecdote about the Grief Reach grant's impact on a child or family that you’d like to share?

A mother shared the following about her daughter’s experience and the healing and safe space created by the on-site support group. The girl’s father had been deported and later died from an unknown cause.

“ My daughter really learned and took a lot out of the group. I realized, and she realized, that she can express different things in group than the things that she can talk to me about. She has a box from group that she keeps like her treasure. It may look insignificant to me or you, but for her it is invaluable, it means her father and her memories. I really recommend this group to any children who may have had a loss.”