A Story of Hope

Is it possible for a child to find peace after his mom dies? The answer to this question is yes.

Take 22-year-old Kevin McConnell, who lost his beloved mother Kathryn after a long battle with cancer nearly six years ago. Meeting Kevin today, you cannot help but be drawn to him and the sense of peace that seems to flow naturally from within. Spending time with him, as kids did this summer at Camp Erin-King County bereavement camp, is like a healing balm for your heart.


Five years ago, though, healing was exactly what Kevin himself needed when he first encountered various programs funded by Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF). He recalls:

“I lost my mom in January, and I had no idea what I was getting into with grief. I wasn’t ready to go to camp that summer, but I was ready for the one-on-one counseling I got through Safe Crossings.”

Kevin’s younger brothers, who had also received services because of generous donors like you, were interested in camp. Kevin’s dad convinced Kevin to go along to have a look. That was all it took – Kevin knew right then he wanted to be a camper the following year and had this to say after his stay:

“I enjoyed being out in the woods at camp. The rituals, like creating the luminary and letting it float out on the lake, really touched me. Camp Erin gave me a community to share my grief with.”

After that first experience at camp, Kevin went off to college, where he skated right into successful student life until his grief began to reappear in new ways. As a result, halfway through his junior year he decided to take a deep breath, step back and reassess.

“After I turned 21, I started dealing with a lot of memories of my mom. I was really feeling the loss in a deeper way. I needed to take some time off and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.”

Part of that process led Kevin back to the community where he first discovered healing. It led him back to Camp Erin, only this time as a Big Buddy camp counselor.

“Being a Big Buddy gave me a chance to pay it forward. I was able to connect with the kids…listen to their stories…hold them when they cried.”

kevin-in-the-mountains_cropThese days, Kevin finds peace in the mountains where he works as a ski lift operator alongside his “big mountain family.” The great outdoors resonates with him on his grief journey, much like it did at Camp Erin-King County. Kevin credits Safe Crossings with giving him the skills to adapt to life after his mother’s death in healthy ways. He plans to go back to school for an outdoor environmental degree, continue volunteering as a Big Buddy for Camp Erin-King County, and bring his middle brother Sean along to volunteer as well.

“I’ve discovered I can survive the most drastic circumstances in my emotional life and in the real world. I’ve learned how to let go and how to move on.”


Since 1989, donors like you have been helping kids like Kevin move through their grief. With your continued giving, we have the power to transform young lives! We welcome your tax-deductible gift with gratitude. Please click here to donate now.