Say Hello to SCF’s Newest Board Member

Safe Crossings Foundation is proud to announce another addition to our Board of Directors, Shawn Hintz!

Shawn Hintz
Senior Vice President – Investments
Senior Institutional Consultant

Shawn has over 20 years of financial industry experience and is a Senior Partner on the UBS Institutional Consulting Group – Northwest team with a primary focus on retirement plans. He is a frequent public speaker on topics including Investment Policy Development, Asset Allocation and Investment Manager Monitoring. Shawn is a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association, has sat on the board of Western Pension & Benefits Conference Seattle Chapter, and is a current board member for several local philanthropic organizations, most recently having joined Safe Crossings Foundation.

“I joined the SCF Board to support families who are experiencing/have experienced the loss of a loved one. As a parent of two young children, and a friend of young families who have experienced loss, I find the SCF mission of critical importance to the community.”

2017 Annual Luncheon Report

The Safe Crossings Foundation Annual Luncheon broke fundraising records once again this year! Thanks to our generous sponsors and donors, we raised more than $447,000 to fund services in support of children and teens following the death of a loved one.

Your gifts will help inspire resilience in families experiencing grief and loss by ensuring that counseling, peer support, bereavement camps, art therapy and other services are offered free of charge. As a result, many grieving kids in our community will be able to rediscover their joy and simply get back to being kids.

The luncheon was held on Thursday, October 12th, 2017, at the Seattle Sheraton, where over 600 community members were in attendance. In honor of this year’s theme, Inspiring Resilience, the event featured the following video to tell the stories of two families who found healing in unexpected ways after the loss of a parent.

 

As you’ll notice in the video, we were delighted to have two sets of teenage twin boys offer their experiences with loss, grief and discovering help through SCF-funded services. These four boys, Jackson, Tyler, Jack and Owen, were joined on stage at the luncheon by a third set of teenage twins named Ty and Damien. With their mother, Eva, Ty and Damien spoke about their time at Camp Erin, instilling in the audience what a life-changing opportunity camp can be for kids struggling with the death of a parent or sibling.

One of our greatest sponsors over the years, Nintendo of America, was honored at the luncheon as the 2017 Bridge to Healing Award Recipient for their strong commitment as an organization to the health of kids in our community. Nintendo has been SCF’s largest donor for over 15 years. Through many sponsorships of both the Annual Luncheon and the Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief, a generous employee donation match program, a corporate culture of philanthropy, dedicated employee volunteers, and even raffle prize gifts, Nintendo has made it possible for thousands of children to find the critical support they need after the loss of a loved one.

Flip Morse, Senior Vice President at Nintendo of America and long-time Safe Crossings Foundation Board Member, accepted the award on behalf of the company and shared his family’s story of grief and resilience through their experiences with various SCF-funded programs.

As the program came to a close, we even sent two lucky raffle winners home with: a new Nintendo Switch Gaming Console with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Game; and a night-out in Vancouver, B.C., including tickets to the Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins game and downtown hotel accommodations.

Safe Crossings Foundation, in partnership with other fantastic organizations, is honored to help such families Flip’s, the Wurzers, the Duffys, the Hellers and many more, made possible only by the generosity of our donors and corporate sponsors.

To all involved, thank you for making this such a wonderful afternoon. Above all, we, the staff and board of Safe Crossings Foundation, are humbled and grateful for the support we received from you, our community, to continue to bring help to grieving kids in need.


 

To our amazing sponsors, we could never have pulled this massive event off without you!

Champion Sponsors
Nintendo of America, Peoples Injury Network Northwest (PINN), Providence St. Joseph Health, Wizards of the Coast

Platinum Sponsor
LabCorp

Gold Sponsors
Auburn Mechanical Inc., Clark Construction Group LLC, Cochran, First Choice Health, Hermanson Company, MacDonald-Miller, Mortenson Construction, Pacific Project Management, Perkins Coie, Sellen Construction, Stoneway Concrete, University Mechanical Contractors, Inc., Williams Kastner

Silver Sponsors
Anning-Johnson, Inc., DBM Contractors, Inc., ISEC, Inc., Johnson Controls, Inc., McKinstry, R.C. Hedreen Co., Sabey Corporation, Strong-Bridge Consulting, United Healthcare, VECA Electric & Technologies, West Monroe Partners

Bronze Sponsors
Aetna, Apollo Mechanical Contractors, ATS Automation, Delta Dental of Washington, Deupree Family Foundation, Expert Drywall, Kaiser Permanente, McClone Construction Company, The Nathanson Group PLLC, Slalom Consulting

We’re also grateful for our wonderful table captains, volunteers and luncheon committee members. Thank you for everything you did to help make this event a success.

Grief Services Changing Lives

The athlete. The class president. The math whiz. The kid whose mom died.

Jennifer Cruz was that kid.

“I was 12 when my mom died in May of 2007; I stayed home for a week. Then I went back to seventh grade and no services were ever offered,” Jen recalls. “I was from a tiny rural town outside of Yakima. I’d gone to school with those same kids since preschool. Being the girl without a mom became my identity.”

Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) helps children and teens like Jen move toward healing after the loss of a loved one. Because of donors like you, we are able to provide these kids a healing haven in which to grieve and grow. Camp Erin-King County, one of the many grief support opportunities funded by SCF, holds kids up so their loss no longer defines them. It brings them together to help them see that while their loss is part of who they are, it is not all they are.

Jen, a Camp Erin-King County volunteer since 2015, originally came to the work the way many volunteers do. She saw it as an opportunity tragically tailor-made to her own experience.

“A camper once asked me, ‘Why do you do this?’ and I said, ‘Because I was in the exact same position as you are now.’ I know how beneficial this is for kids; I wish I could have had something like Camp Erin-King County. As a Big Buddy, I get to be a part of it, and it helps me. If the kids can do this, so can I.”

Jen was just 21 when she first came to camp, barely older than some of the eldest campers. What they were processing, she was processing. And by sharing that with them, it made it easy for campers to make themselves vulnerable to her.

“I told the kids that I had a lot of the same feelings they did. I told them that I was finishing college and I still hadn’t figured things out. In the end, they helped me as much as I helped them. Some of these 17-year-olds had already figured out how to use their experience to make their lives—and the world—better.”

“When the kids share their stories that first day, it’s amazing. I never would have been able to be that vulnerable. It’s incredible to hear them articulate what they’re going through, and to have the privilege of bearing witness to those who aren’t ready to tell their story.”

Safe Crossings Foundation funds various grief support service organizations to help children and teens process their grief in whatever way fits them. Whether it is individual counseling, art therapy, wilderness experiences or camp, grieving kids can find many opportunities for healing.

For many of them, SCF-funded programs are the beginning of the healing process. They learn skills for handling those big feelings, something Jen had to learn on her own. At the end of a camp weekend, the transformation is remarkable. These kids not only learn how to cope, but also develop the crucial understanding that they are not alone. They have a community of people to turn to for support, a community Jen didn’t have as a child but has been able to build as a young adult, aided in part by her experiences as a Big Buddy.

This holiday season, please consider a gift to Safe Crossings Foundation. Your generous gift will provide holistic support to these kids through programs such as Camp Erin-King County, Safe Crossings Program, individual and family counseling, art and music therapy, peer support groups and adventure outings for teens, all at no cost to the recipients! We also sponsor grief programs that not only benefit children, but young adults like Jen as well. After all, grief is a lifelong journey, and safe, soulful community support can make all the difference.

To all our supporters as 2017 draws to a close, thank you for your commitment to helping grieving children rediscover joy this holiday season!


Since 1989, donors like you have been helping kids 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.

 

Teens Helping Teens Move Through Grief

Camp Erin-King County hosts a weekend session each summer that is just for teenagers.

On the last night of camp, teens participate in a special grief activity with each other around the pool. All campers gather on blankets with luminaries they’ve each made by hand that picture their relationship with their lost loved ones. These beautiful, decorated paper boxes are lit with candles and sent into the pool to float amongst each other while the campers watch in peace and reflect on loving memories, as well as their shared grief journeys.

This tradition is the pinnacle of camp, and there is an abiding sense of calm as the teens enter this respectful space. As each person places their luminary on the water, the support from those around them is palpable. One Big Buddy (or adult volunteer) noted,

“As I was watching these courageous young people, I overheard two of them whispering. A 13-year-old girl said, ‘This takes a long time’, to which a 13-year-old boy reassured her saying, ‘It’s worth it’.”

Over 50 teens and 60 children got to experience the magic of Camp Erin-King County this past summer. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of our donors, they were able to experience this life-changing weekend at no cost to their families.

For more information on Camp Erin, please click here.

Welcome to Our New SCF Board Members!

Safe Crossings Foundation is pleased to announce two additions to our Board of Directors, Danielle Funston and Paul Robinett!

Danielle Funston
Vice President, Blueprint Consulting Services

Danielle joined as Blueprint’s first employee and built out the entire Operations organization, including Accounting, IT Operations, Workplace Operations, Marketing, HR, Client Development Operations, and Talent Acquisition. She is results driven and passionate about organizational development, employee culture, and technology.

“As a child, I was removed from my parent’s care and ultimately displaced for a period. I was eventually adopted by my maternal grandmother and grandfather at age 12, and my grandfather passed away a few years later. I’m passionate about the mission of Safe Crossings as I can easily see how critical a community of services and people to help understand and process the grief is. Danelle is a mother to two sons and a daughter – Ben, Ethan and Charli. Danielle decided to join Safe Crossings because she is passionate about supporting children who face serious challenges presented with grief, and with how to navigate the many milestones of life in the absence of a parent.”

 

Paul Robinett
Vice President/Principal, Critical Environments Group (CEG), Hermanson Company

Paul has spent the last 20 years building expertise in mechanical construction – as a Project Manager, an Estimator, and a Project Executive and Preconstruction Leader. A graduate of the University of Nebraska’s Construction Management program, his focus has been on successful completion of large, complex efforts – from new hospitals to major retrofits in occupied buildings.

“Having lost a parent at an early age, I can personally relate to what many of the children and families we serve are going though. Having been involved with Safe Crossings Foundation over the last few years, I can now see how this impacted me a as teenage and how it has shaped me as an adult. While what I went through was nothing compared to most of the families, I do wish I and my mother had an organization like Safe Crossings available to us. Any assistance that I can provide in helping these families get through such a challenging time would be a blessing to me.”

We at SCF are proud to have you both on the team, Danielle and Paul!

It’s That Time of Year Again…

Our Annual Luncheon is right around the corner!

On Thursday, October 12th, Safe Crossings Foundation (SCF) supporters will gather for an afternoon of fundraising to support grieving children.

One of our greatest sponsors over the years, Nintendo of America, will be honored at the luncheon as the 2017 Bridge to Healing Award Recipient for their strong commitment as an organization to the health of kids in our community. Nintendo has been SCF’s largest donor for over 15 years. Through many sponsorships of both the Annual Luncheon and the Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief, a generous employee donation match program, a corporate culture of philanthropy, dedicated employee volunteers, and even raffle prize gifts, Nintendo has made it possible for thousands of children to find the critical support they need following the death of a parent or sibling.

Flip Morse, the Senior Vice President at Nintendo of America and long-time Safe Crossings Foundation Board Member, will accept the award on behalf of the company and share his family’s story of healing through their experiences with various SCF-funded programs.

To top the afternoon off, we’ll draw two raffle winners who will be lucky enough to win either the new Nintendo Switch Gaming Console with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Game; or a night-out in Vancouver, B.C., including tickets to the Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins game and downtown hotel accommodations!

If you haven’t registered yet and would like to join, you can do so by clicking here.

For more information on the luncheon, please click here.

Save the Date // 2018 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief

The 2018 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief will be held on March 2nd at the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Building in Renton, Washington.

This one-day symposium will explore the topic of Connecting Children to Support: Addressing Barriers to Services.

We are pleased to announce Kevin Carter, MSW, LCSW, and Tyran Hill, MSSA, as our keynote speakers this year!

Kevin and Tyran will open the day with an interactive presentation on the impact of childhood loss and grief experiences from the lens of their own psychosocial development as African American men growing up in the South and as intergenerational social work colleagues. They have worked with community leaders and schools across the country to learn and share how to overcome barriers to support all children who are grieving.

Together, they will explore how the examination of loss at the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation and age can provide pathways for dialogue, understanding and development. They will share strategies for education and intervention that inspire hope and courage to make change.

Their presentation will help create a framework for a 21st century approach to reaching across divides to making healing connections in community grief, loss and trauma.


 

It’s sure to be an important day of connection and learning within our grief support community. Registration will open in January. Please mark your calendars and invite your colleagues!

For more information, please visit the conference page by clicking here.

Themes and Patterns: Cultural Sensitivity in Grief Support

Responding in a Culturally Sensitive Way to Those Who are Grieving

Patterned tiles of bright colors often remind me of my host mother who took care of me when I studied abroad in Spain.  While I was there, she invited me to meet her sister in Seville. At the time, I wanted to learn more about Spanish tiles and cultural influences of Southern Spain. So, I traveled by train with Julita from her hometown of Salamanca. When we arrived at her sister’s apartment, the two siblings burst into tears. So did all of the nieces who were seated on the couch. My Spanish was still developing, so I vaguely knew what was going on. Somehow I pieced together that Julita’s husband had died at the same time as her sister’s husband. The last time they saw each other was at a funeral. I wasn’t sure how or why I was a part of this special gathering exactly, but I was honored to have been invited.

Yet, I just awkwardly stood there as family members shared stories and I struggled to understand them. I wanted to help or offer support in some way, but the best I could do was to listen. As a visitor to a different country, I felt like I had so much more to learn than one three-month stay could ever teach me. I knew how to order food politely and study literature, art, dance, and history. However, I didn’t know anything about experiencing life or death from another person’s perspective, whose culture differed from mine.

Navigating the intersections of culture and grief can seem challenging. However, there is some general cultural sensitivity information teachers, parents, and friends can use if a student or loved one from another culture is grieving.

First, the whole concept of “culture” influences many different aspects of a person’s or group’s identity. According to J.W. Green, cited in Sandra López’s article, “Culture as an Influencing Factor in Adolescent Grief and Bereavement,” culture is “a way of life of a society, consisting of prescribed ways of behaving or norms of conduct, beliefs, values, and skills. It is a sum total of life patterns passed from generation to generation” (2011, p. 11).  In other words, culture can include shared memories, experiences, and histories. Politics, art, gender identity, sexual orientation, systems for networking, health care, raising children, religion, and education can all form a part of individual and collective cultures.  However,

“Cultural groups are not homogenous, and individual variation must always be considered in situations of death, grief, and bereavement” (Clements, et al., 2003).

Individuals might deviate from what the members of their culture may or may not do when presented with death.

So, even if parents, caregivers, and teachers were to read up on every culture and religion in the world, they would have to keep in mind that individuals vary regarding the degree and extent to which they identify with a given culture. For instance, within some cultures, when grieving, it’s acceptable to cry openly. Others might not, in order to avoid interfering with the deceased member’s transition from death to the afterlife. Social hierarchy could dictate which members of a family or community make arrangements regarding rituals and bereavement. Distant relatives might travel to be with the immediate family of a deceased person. Traditional practices regarding death and burial might need to be practiced exactly in order to preserve the well being of surviving members and the deceased person. There may be separate rituals for mourners and for the deceased. Sometimes the funeral and burial must be performed immediately to assist with the transition after death. Cremation may or may not be acceptable in some cultures and some groups may bond with the deceased through prayers and gatherings (Rubin, et al., 2012). However, according to David J. Schonfeld at the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, “The fundamental experience of grief is universal,” (2017). If there are variations then, the theme remains the same: death comes to everyone and everyone grieves in some way.

As the United States grows more diverse, practical advice can be found to help parents, teachers, friends, and caregivers respond to people in culturally sensitive ways.  The Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Terrorism and Disaster Center at the University of Missouri makes the following brochure available online in PDF format:  http://dmh.mo.gov/docs/diroffice/disaster/culturalguidelines.pdf. Some advice in this brochure includes:

  • Allowing families to grieve in their own way.
  • Using an interpreter, if needed.
  • Identifying important ethnic or faith leaders in the community.
  • Avoiding touch or contact with grieving members, unless invited to do so.

This brochure also provides brief summaries of the family dynamics, beliefs, expressions of grief, ceremonies, and other considerations for the following groups and religions: African Americans, Amish, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, Bosnian Americans, European Americans, Latinos, Micronesian Americans, Native Americans, Somali Americans, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, Judaism, Mormonism, and Santeria. Finally, there is a list of a variety of books that could be ordered to learn more about the concepts of culture and grieving. Similarly, the Coalition to Support Grieving Students provides a video and module summary in which Dr. Schonfeld provides advice for maintaining cultural sensitivity when responding to a grieving person. The following steps are listed in the module:

  • Be observant and perhaps ask, “Can you help me understand how I can best be of help to you and your family?”
  • Listen carefully for the answers and be guided by the responses.
  • Watch out for assumptions. Even if you know a person’s culture or you share that person’s culture, people can be products of multiple cultures. Or, they might reject or accept pieces of a culture to which they identify. Assumptions can lead to stereotypes, which might interfere with opportunities to help.

Once my host mother in Spain had a chance to share her stories, we all ventured into the streets and historic buildings of Seville to view the architecture and tiles influenced by Muslims, Christians, and Jews living there in the 8th through the 15th centuries. The diamond, star, circular, and wavy patterns repeated and changed. They took on new forms, colors and shapes, as did the stories Julita, her sister, and her daughters shared as we walked. If “layers of cultural attachments” are a part of human existence as López recognizes (2012, p. 11), then approaching those who are grieving with “an open mind and heart” (Schonfeld, 2017) may be a pattern worth repeating.

Written By Cecilia Kennedy


 

References:

Clements, Paul T., Gloria Vigil, Martin Manno, Gloria Henry, & Jonathan Wilks. (2003). Cultural Perspectives of Death, Grief, and Bereavement.  Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 41.7, 18-26.

López, Sandra. (2011). Culture as an Influencing Factor in Adolescent Grief and Bereavement.  The Prevention Researcher, 18(3), 10-13.

Missouri Department of Mental Health & The Terrorism and Disaster Center of the University of Missouri. (2014). Cultural Guidelines for Working with Families Who  Have Experienced Sudden and Unexpected Death.  Missouri Department of Mental Health. http://dmh.mo.gov/docs/diroffice/disaster/culturalguidelines.pdf

Rubin, Simon Shimshon Shimson, Ruth Malkinson, & Eliezer Wiztum. (2012). The Social-Cultural Contexts of Loss:  Considerations for Culturally Sensitive Interventions.  Working with the Bereaved, 187-202. Hoboken, NJ. Routledge.

Schonfeld, David J. (2017). Cultural Sensitivity. USC National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement.  https://grievingstudents.org/module-section/cultural-sensitivity/


For more resources and help within King and Snohomish Counties, you can also visit the Safe Crossings Program for Children and Teens through Providence Health:  http://washington.providence.org/in-home-services/hospice-of-seattle/programs-and-services/grief-support/for-children-and-teens/

Providence Hospice & SCF: 28 Years of Partnership to Help Grieving Children

On May 24th, Providence Hospice awarded SCF with the 2017 Hospice Award of Distinction, commemorating our organizations’ 28-year partnership. The evening weaved history and memories with stories from current Safe Crossings Program counselors about how children work through their grief and other complicated emotions following the death of a loved one.

The reception program was emceed by Gary Crum, Director of the Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation. Former Providence Director Bob Anderson reminisced on Safe Crossings’ humble beginnings. He recalled his first meeting with Teresa Bigelow and Carol McMullin as they approached him about starting a foundation and the importance of creating support systems for children who have experienced loss. As a result, Carol and Teresa founded the McMullin-Robertson Foundation in 1989, which would later become Safe Crossings Foundation.

The award was accepted on SCF’s behalf by Colleen Robertson, Teresa’s daughter and current SCF Board President (both are pictured to the left). Colleen’s father, Bill, died after a long illness when she was a child, and she was privileged enough to receive counseling services throughout the illness and following his death. Experiencing the benefits of these services for her daughter led Teresa to try to meet the immense need for support for grieving children, resulting in the eventual creation of SCF.

We look forward to many more years of partnership between our organizations and the continued impact that we are able to have together on the lives of children!

A Nun on a Mission

Sister Maureen Knows Kids’ Grief Support Changes Lives

Sister Maureen Newman has been involved in the Providence Ministry for over 50 years and currently works as a Provincial Counselor at Providence Hospice in Seattle. Her journey with children began shortly after graduating from Seattle University with a degree in education. After briefly teaching at St. Michael in Olympia and St. Joseph in Vancouver, she began teaching at St. Therese in South Seattle. Sister Maureen remained at St. Therese for 24 years, teaching fourth grade and eventually becoming Assistant Principal.

While working at St. Therese, Sister Maureen was also involved in programs within the King County Jail system. Through her involvement in these programs, she was able to see firsthand the effects of traumatic loss on a child’s future. Time and time again, she would encounter inmates who had lost a parent or guardian at a young age. Without proper care, many of these individuals would lose their way and have various run-ins with the law. After seeing this recurring trend, Sister Maureen was truly inspired to work with grieving kids. By providing the victims of traumatic loss with the proper support services and counseling, she believes it is possible to break the cycle and help grieving children find a brighter future.

Although the Sisters of Providence have provided amazing support services since our partnership began in 1991, Sister Maureen sees a need for improvement. The biggest issue in providing grief services for children is simply the lack of facilities around the country that can support all of those who have experienced loss. In addition to improving the scope of services provided, she stresses the enormous need for people to be educated on the signs of a child who is in pain and needs support. The biggest step in changing a grieving child’s future is recognizing that the child needs help and finding people to help provide that support.

In order to address some of these key concerns, SCF is continuing our work with a number of proven programs for grieving children. Through the Art With Heart program, children can express themselves creatively through art to work through the difficult journey of traumatic loss. In addition, SCF works to promote ongoing awareness of grief support resources so that parents have a place to turn when in need. It is our goal to provide the necessary help to ensure that no child is faced with the task of grieving a traumatic loss on his or her own.

Safe Crossings Foundation feels incredibly lucky to have Sister Maureen as part of the team at Providence Hospice. Her dedication to helping grieving children in the Seattle area is truly inspiring. We look forward to witnessing her continued and beneficial work at Providence, as well as the many children whose lives are changed by her work and our continued partnership.