Our 2018 Luncheon was a Great Success!

This year’s SCF Luncheon on October 18th, launched our 30th year of service to grieving kids and families. We are enthusiastically looking toward the future as we celebrate this significant milestone in our organization’s history. The luncheon event included keynote speeches from Janette Du Monceaux of Providence Hospice of Snohomish and Ian Buckmaster, who received Safe Crossings Program services and is a Camp Erin volunteer. The Abramson and Gilligan/Burk families benefited from grief support services and shared their stories in the video below.

In addition to sharing highlights from the past three decades, we also unveiled our new logo and five-year goal to double our capacity to serve grieving children in the Puget Sound region. Contributions to this event, along with those made over the next five years, will continue to fund support services such as grief counseling, educational and training programs for volunteers and counselors, and resources for children who may not have access to a counselor.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Safe Crossings Foundation at our luncheon. Your generosity helped us raise a record breaking  $473,000 for grieving kids and families!

As we embark on our 30th year of helping grieving children, we want to take a moment to thank all of you for your support over the past three decades. Together, we have changed the course of children’s lives following the death of a loved one. Let’s continue to work together to offer grieving-youth a future with the joy, security, and possibilities that all children deserve.

To learn more or get involved with Safe Crossings Foundation, contact us at info@safecrossingsfoundation.org.

Childhood Grief Conference was March 26th, 2019.

In response to a call from local children’s grief support providers, Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) presented the 5th Annual Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief. As the leader in funding grief support services for children in the Pacific Northwest, SCF hosted a conference that provided CEUs and the opportunity to build community, share ideas and learn together.

This one-day conference was held at the Puget Sound Educational Service District in Renton on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 and focused on the theme of Connecting Children to Grief Support. The conference was designed for grief support providers, including clinicians, therapists, counselors, teachers, school staff, and healthcare workers.

Goals for the Conference

  • Provide education on best practices through the exchange of timely clinical information, programs, advances in research, and ideas for successful children’s grief support programming
  • Provide practical tools and skills to use when supporting grieving children
  • Create a space for sharing diverse perspectives, connecting, and learning from each other
  • Promote networking and support among colleagues

Our keynote speaker, Dr. David Schonfeld from the University of Southern California’s National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, addressed both the individual needs of grieving students and the system supports needed for grieving school communities. Dr. Schonfeld is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and Professor of the Practice of Social Work, Dept. of Children, Youth and Families, in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Pediatrics at USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is a member the American Academy of Pediatrics Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council and served as a Commissioner for both the National Commission on Children and Disasters and the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission in Connecticut. He was the President of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP) from 2006-2007.

Learn more about the 2019 conference program HERE!

Portrait of David Schonfeld. Photo by Tracy Boulian + David Ahntholz
http://www.tracydavid.com

Thanks to You, We’re Turning Thirty! Help us kick off the celebration at our Luncheon on October 18th!

Safe Crossings Foundation is celebrating 30 years of helping children cope with grief. Thirty years ago, Teresa Bigelow and Carol McMullin founded Safe Crossings Foundation in honor of their late husbands, both lawyers at the Williams Kastner law firm, and their beloved young children. After experiencing firsthand the struggles of trying to find resources for their own children, their goal was to ensure that all kids, regardless of family finances, could access vital grief support.

Please join us for our annual luncheon on October 18, 2018 to mark this special anniversary. This year we are honoring the Williams Kastner law firm for their 30 years partnering with us in support of grief services. From funding special weekend grief camps to art therapy to group counseling, Williams Kastner has played an influential role in helping thousands of grieving youth. We are proud to honor them with the 2018 Bridge to Healing Award!

You, too, can significantly impact how children experience grief support in our region. Please donate to Safe Crossings Foundation and help us ensure that all kids get the support they need to cope with grief.

Registration for the luncheon on October 18, 2018 at the Seattle Sheraton has closed. Please contact Marci Servizi at marci@safecrossingsfoundation.org.

For parking information click here.

Time will tell – A Story from Camp Erin-King County 2018

Hi! My name is Marci Servizi. I’m the Development Director at Safe Crossings Foundation. Every summer, I make time to volunteer at Camp Erin-King CountyTM with teens who are going through grief. Camp is such a special place because it gives kids and teens a rare opportunity to be with other grieving kids in a beautiful setting away from the stresses and pressures of their every day life. This year was particularly rewarding as I had the honor of witnessing an especially powerful moment for one teen.

It’s a camp tradition to hold a sharing circle the first night. This is an important ritual that gives campers the opportunity to share about the loved one they lost in the company of other kids who “get it”. The first two years this particular girl attended camp, she wasn’t ready to share her story and decided to “pass” when it was her turn. It’s always optional for the campers to share and is certainly understandable why they might not be quite ready right away.  Each person grieves on their own timetable.

At this year’s opening circle, however, she was ready to open up.  Surrounded by peers and adult volunteers with whom she has been building trust over the two previous camps, she told a little something about her dad. It clearly meant so much to her to be able to talk about her father and it meant so much to me to have witnessed her development over these few summers. I am grateful for generous donors who make opportunities like this at Camp Erin-King CountyTM possible for so many kids.

SCF Benefits from Legacy of Charity

Written by James Miller from McKinstry.

It began as a gathering of friends.

Eight recent college grads, looking for something to do on the morning of July 4th, 1998. So we went golfing and, of course, placed a wager for lunch afterward. A tournament was born. 

Looking back 20 years now, our annual gathering has endured through careers, marriage and children and an untimely and tragic death.

The unthinkable happened. Our dear friend, Bryan Beale, died in a motorcycle accident. Because Bryan was a junior high band teacher, his parents set up a memorial fund to help send kids to band camps. We donated the funds from our golf tournaments. It seemed like a modest amount, but it impacted the youth it supported. Our circle expanded and we began collecting donations for additional causes we cared about.

As our families grew, we began to understand the challenges associated with having and raising kids. So, in 2017, we redirected our giving. We selected Safe Crossings Foundation as our charity. We were able to donate $3,000 in one year. A modest amount, but impactful nonetheless. We are ecstatic to dedicate our annual golf tournament to Safe Crossings again in 2018 and beyond.

Before I sign off, I want to leave you with one piece of advice.

Take part in life. No matter where we are, there are always a few charitable hours to give. And even a few hard earned dollars can make a significant impact. Don’t wait until you can “afford it.” Follow your passions. Give where it makes sense. Don’t be bashful about modest contributions. Give of yourself and the rest will work out.

Play well.

James

 

 

“100 Women Who Care” and “Thank You Ma’am” Support Grieving Children of Puget Sound

Safe Crossings Foundation is grateful to receive the support of 100 Women Who Care-Snoqualmie Valley and Thank You Ma’am of Seattle.

Since the inception of these two organizations, thousands of dollars have been contributed to nonprofit organizations in the Greater Seattle and Snoqualmie area. Their model of amplified donations where over a hundred women donate $100 each allows for immediate positive impact in vulnerable communities. With their donations, we fund programs and services for grieving youth.

100 Women Who Care’s generous donation will uplift dozens of grieving children in the Snoqualmie Valley community. With access to counselling in their native language in the comfort of their homes, youth will be more able to heal and overcome their grief. Despite the lack of a physical grief counselling office in Snoqualmie, 100 Women Who Care is dedicated to serving youth most in need of a helping hand. We are proud to stand with such powerful women in serving the grieving youth of Snoqualmie Valley.

Thank You Ma’am’s support of Safe Crossings Foundation will provide grief support counseling, art books, and weekend grief camp opportunities for children and teens throughout the Puget Sound region. We are honored to join the ranks of life-changing organizations they have supported.

Please join Safe Crossings Foundation in thanking 100 Women Who Care and Thank You Ma’am for the hope and healing they are bringing to grieving children and teens in our region.

3rd Annual Golf Tournament: Thank You to Gold+Corporate Sponsors

On a less than warm Friday in late May, teams from our corporate sponsor organizations gathered for a day of fun at The Golf Club at Newcastle. Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) held the tournament to thank our most generous corporate sponsors. Without their support and dedication to grieving children, SCF would not be able to help nearly as many children across the Pacific Northwest.

“Getting to spend the day with colleagues, having fun and learning more about SCF and the work they do for kids, made for a wonderful way to start the weekend.” reflected Dave Alston, Vice President – Stoneway Concrete.

SCF staff and board members were thrilled to connect with new friends (and our loyal supporters) from each company to discuss how SCF supports grieving children.  Pictures from the day can be viewed here.

Thank you again to all our sponsors!

The Impact of Your Generosity Shines in 2017

In 2017, the Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) Board of Directors made grants to Providence Hospice of Seattle’s Safe Crossings Program and Camp Erin®-King County, as well as to Forefront Cares and The Healing Center, to serve unmet needs in the greater Puget Sound region, all at no cost to families.

The Safe Crossings Program provides children with opportunities to process their grief. The program is staffed by master’s degree-level social workers highly experienced in supporting children and families. Funding from SCF provided continuing support for their services to families, which include a variety of approaches such as individual counseling, crisis response for schools, and weekend summer bereavement camp for kids.

The Healing Center is a Seattle-based grief support community for adults, children, and families. During 2017, they served 70 children between the ages of 3 and 18, a 40% increase in the number of children served from 2016. A grant from SCF supported the Healing Center to meet with representatives from 20 organizations across the Puget Sound area to explore how they can better advance social and racial equity within grief work.

Forefront Cares, a program developed by the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, provides emotional support for individuals and families impacted by suicide. Funding from SCF was used to provide “Care Packages” of items that can bring comfort to survivors, as well as kid-friendly books and lists of local resources. The program also offers phone support for survivors by “mentors,” including helping grieving parents learn strategies for supporting their grieving child or teen.

 

Healing in Cyberspace

The Role of Online Bereavement Platforms in Helping Grieving Children Heal

By Cecilia Kennedy

In the spaces of the Internet, grieving children are carving a niche for themselves. They light virtual candles, post their own artwork, and help each other heal. “They understand, quite naturally, how good it is to have someone listen to them who ‘gets it.’ Kids seem like smart, wise people,” says Dr. Cendra Lynn, founder and director of GriefNet.org. Her daughter, Elyzabeth helped envision Kidsaid.com, which is also part of GriefNet.org. This site helps children and teens gain grief support. They can post their thoughts, without censorship by adults or parents. “They use their own language because it’s not our business to shape it in any way. We don’t know the answers,” Lynn explains. In this space, children from all over the world and rural areas can find support from others who are experiencing the same type of loss they’re experiencing now. In fact, online spaces and social media play an important role in helping children and adolescents cope, according to recent studies.

The fact that online sites are shaped by peers of a similar age is helpful. According to Heffel, et al. (2015), cited in Palmer, et al. (2016), “The most positive aspect of social media as a source of grief support is a shared location for young people to express support and condolences” (p. 279). In other words, this space tends to be “nonjudgmental,” as Lynn observes: “They accept each other without question. They simply discuss.” According to Katrin Döveling, who conducted her own study of four different bereavement platforms online in Germany, including platforms for children, widowers, adolescents, and adults, “Bereaved individuals compare themselves and their experiences with others online in a horizontal, nonjudgmental way” (2017, p 52). In this way, “Empathic reactions online thus ameliorate distressing moments of solitude. Here, online communication relating to loss-related emotions bears the potential for restorative actions and can be a vital source for recovery in traumatic, distressing events” (Döveling, 2017, p. 54). In other words, this “horizontal” or “nonjudgmental view” could lead to healing and coping behaviors.

These online spaces also seem to be versatile and empowering.  According to a different, qualitative study by Katrin Döveling, of 21 threads and 319 postings on two different youth bereavement platforms in Germany, children find emotional value that might not exist in the offline world. Sometimes the adults and others in their life are experiencing their own issues. Or, they simply don’t understand. So, children are turning to each other and bereavement platforms. On these platforms, they efficiently use emoticons along with other visual symbols to help them communicate. In fact, according to Döveling’s study, emoticons fulfill several useful functions to help children display concepts that might be difficult to explain, like grief. Emoticons can have “toning effects” that help readers in the community understand messages of gratitude or irony. Emoticons can also help supplement a message (2015, pp. 414-415). Additionally, some platforms allow for other symbols, such as balloons. And, in the case of Kidsaid.com, children can upload their own drawings to share with their community. Even more importantly, “a taker can develop in his or her coping process and become a giver” (Döveling, 2015, p. 418). In other words, children and adolescents might transition from “loss oriented” to “restoration-oriented coping” (Stroebe & Schut, 2010, p. 277 cited in Döveling, 2015, p. 403). Within this framework, children move from “processing some aspect of the loss experience itself” to “focusing on what needs to be dealt with (e.g. social loneliness), and how it is dealt with (e.g. by avoiding solitariness” (Stroebe & Schut, 1999, pp. 212-214, cited in Döveling, 2015, p. 407). Through these spaces then, children and adolescents learn to create, interact, and transform.

So, how do these sites work? Some sites, such as Kidsaid.com require the permission of a parent, but parents and adults aren’t allowed to participate. A therapist, such as Lynn, helps a volunteer oversee the interactions, but only steps in during rare circumstances. The philosophy behind this method is to let children help each other and speak openly. Certainly, these sites may seem like a very public place to express grief, and “microblogs are changing the way people are mourning across the planet by creating a public space for it” (Taubert, et al., 2014, p. 16). Creating a public space for something that people don’t normally talk about, such as death, can contribute positively to mental health. To help protect children, some sites ask the children to use nicknames and not give out personal information. Some require further verification to ensure safety. Palmer, et al. adds, “As always, youth should be cautioned about privacy and safety when using the Internet” (2016, p. 279).

Social media sites sometimes serve to help children who find themselves in remote, rural parts of the world. Some of these children respond to each others’ posts. Some do not. Some may use a site once or they may use the site for years to build friendships and community. If technology is available, children are resourceful enough to use it to heal. As Lynn observes, “Human beings are inherently resilient. People tend to pull themselves back together.”


References/Resources:

Döveling, Katrin.  (2017). Online Emotion Regulation in Digitally Mediated Bereavement. Why Age and Kind of Loss Matter in Grieving Online. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1), pp. 41-57.

–.  (2015)  Help Me I am So Alone. Online Emotional Self-Disclosure in Shared Coping Processes of Children and Adolescents on Social Networking Platforms.  De Gruyter Mouton/Communications, 40(4), pp. 403-423.

Lynn, Cendra.  (2017, May 10). Phone Interview.

Palmer, Michelle, Micah Saviet, & Jeremy Tourish (2016).  Understanding and Supporting Grieving Adolescents and Young Adults.  Pediatric Nursing, 42(6), pp. 275-281.

Taubert, Mark, Gareth Watts, Jason Boland, & Lukas Radbruch (2014). Palliative Social Media, 4, pp. 13-18.

Useful Sites/Resources:

GriefNet.org

Kidsaid.com

Providence Hospice of Seattle’s Safe Crossings Program

Inspiring Resilience

Annual luncheon video highlights healing processes of two families supported by SCF-funded programs

Two sets of twins share their stories of losing a parent and the support people and programs that helped them down the path toward healing. The families featured in this video from our latest luncheon perfectly embody the spirit of resilience that SCF hopes to bolster through the services we fund for grieving children.

Inspiring Resilience from Safe Crossings Foundation on Vimeo.

This is the official video presentation from Safe Crossings Foundation’s 2017 Annual Luncheon.