Finding comfort in the stars: a stellar event for grieving kids with Camp Erin.

New York Life | April 3, 2023

New York Life has launched the latest installment in the Love Takes Action series. The episode highlights the impact that the New York Life Foundation and the company’s agents and employees and their bereavement partners have on communities across the country.

Finding comfort in the stars

The New York Life Foundation hosted an event to reunite grieving children and honor the memories of their loved ones.

The New York Life Foundation recently partnered with Camp Erin, the largest bereavement camp for children, to host campers from Tulsa Camp Erin at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum on February 4 for a series of star-related activities to honor their lost loved ones. The event was designed to reunite and reconnect campers together outside of the week they’re at Camp Erin in the summer.

For many of those who are grieving, nights can be a difficult time, especially for children, therefore, the event centered around the wonder and love of the nighttime.  More than 40 campers and their families created a “Constellation of Love” made of paper stars to represent the people they’ve lost. Bethany Gardner, director of bereavement programs at Camp Erin, talked through the constellation activity with animation projected on the dome of the planetarium.

The goal of the event was not only to reunite campers in the off season but to provide a permanent way for them to find comfort during difficult times. Therefore, the Foundation worked with an app to dedicate stars representing the campers’ deceased loved ones, forming a Constellation of Love. Each child will be able to view their star when they feel the need to connect. “A star is a beacon of hope–a way to create a bond that won’t ever be broken and an endless reminder of them that lights up an entire sky that is otherwise dark,” said Maria Collins, New York Life Foundation Vice President.

John Stagg, Managing Partner of New York Life’s Tulsa General Office, and Maria Collins gave each child a certificate documenting their star, a nightlight, and personalized pendant engraved with the star’s coordinates to keep their memories alive. During the day, campers wrote the names of the people they were memorializing on glitter stars and pinned them to a nebula backdrop to create a star wall. As a special surprise, attendees heard from Michele Metcalf and Maria Coghill, the sister and mother of Erin Metcalf, Camp Erin’s namesake, as well as special video message from John Herrington, retired U.S. astronaut and the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly into space, to offer hopes of inspiration and love.

Helping families and children by providing resources and funding bereavement camps is an important part of the Foundation’s work, and this event truly showed how New York Life supports communities.”

—John Stagg, Managing Partner, Tulsa General Office

“Turning something like nights that can be sad into a celebration of someone you love is an incredible way for children to process their grief,” says Stagg. “My father died when I was seven years old, and I wish I had the support that Camp Erin provides. Helping families and children by providing resources and funding bereavement camps is an important part of the Foundation’s work, and this event truly showed how New York Life supports communities.”

Creating a supportive environment for grieving children is a fundamental part of the Foundation’s mission and program investing. Partnering with organizations across the country, the Foundation is creating safe spaces for grieving, sharing, and healing.

“As a community, we are coming together and saying, 'We see you. We want you to feel supported' and we want the children to know it’s okay to celebrate their deceased loved ones. This event helps to illustrate that it’s okay to share your grief story, so their story is never forgotten,” said Collins.

With the support of New York Life agents, employees, and their families, we were able to demonstrate how “Love Takes Action.”

You can view more stories from our Love Takes Action series here.


Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Media contact

Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937