By Cindy Himes
Of the many charities that the Penguins Foundation partners with in serving our community, it’s difficult to find an organization that provides more compassion and empathy than the Highmark Caring Place.
The past year has been difficult for everyone. But it’s been a particularly challenging year for families with grieving children and teens.
Since 1996, the Highmark Caring Place – A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families – has offered help and hope to children and families after the loss of a loved one through its peer support group services and other programs.
Throughout the past year, the Caring Place was faced with a dilemma—just when grieving children needed help more than ever, the long-established ways of providing that help were no longer available. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person groups were no longer possible.
That’s when the Highmark Caring Place found a way to bring peer support programming to grieving children, teens, and their families. They went virtual; and, brought their support groups online.
In these groups, children with their families do activities to help strengthen their family bonds, find ways of talking about feelings, remember their loved ones together, and find ways to move forward as a family. All of this is done with the support and encouragement of other grieving families.
The virtual platform has proved to be successful with children of all ages including a new family program for preschool-aged children. In addition, going virtual also allowed the Caring Place to experiment with new ideas about programming, including a new program for families to stay together as they support one another online.
For more information on the Highmark Caring Place and its virtual programming for children, young adults and their families, visit www.highmarkcaringplace.com.
Photo Caption: Matt Harris attended a 2019-20 Penguins home game with his sons Apollo and Orion, as guests of the Caring Place and the Penguins Foundation.