This year, the Safe Crossings Foundation Board of Directors designated special funds for a community grant-making initiative. This program offered two $12,500 competitive grants to emerging programs that addressed unmet needs in the greater Puget Sound area. Eight organizations submitted requests, and we selected two outstanding programs to receive funding: Forefront and The Healing Center. Below you will find descriptions of their plans for the grants.
Forefront Cares is a program launched in 2013 that provides unique, timely and personalized outreach and peer support to individuals who are suffering the loss of a loved one to suicide. The grant will address the needs of children and youth who lose a parent or sibling in this manner.
Forefront Cares consists of two parts: care packages and peer-to-peer phone support. They send care packages to the newly bereaved individuals and families referred to them by first-responders, funeral homes, faith community leaders or family and friends. These packages include books about coping with grief after a suicide death and items of comfort such as tissues, candles, tea and writing journals. They also offer survivors the opportunity to be paired with a trained volunteer who has experienced a similar loss. Usually the best – and sometimes the only – person a suicide survivor can talk to is someone who’s already been through it. The volunteer provides short-term phone support to the newly bereaved survivor. It is a therapeutic and healing bond for both the volunteer and the grieving person.
In 2014, Forefront created a child-focused care package (with age-appropriate books and comfort items) and expanded their services to include peer phone support that helps grieving parents know how to respond to the loss their child or teen is feeling. They also provide families with information about other helpful resources in their area, such as local bereavement camp programs and grief groups. All Forefront Cares services are provided at no charge to families. They will ensure Safe Crossings Foundation funds help underwrite the cost of providing these services to grieving children and teens during 2016/2017, including marketing the program within schools and rural communities already receiving suicide prevention training and support from Forefront. With Forefront’s deep involvement in 14 King County high schools, expansion to six rural Washington communities, outreach to those working in grief care and their well-developed relationships with media across the state, they hope to spread the word about this new and highly important effort.
The Healing Center provides evidence-based peer support programs for children, teens and adults, serving more than 400 individuals annually. Creating a space to grieve – in the community of others – helps ensure children and teens have a place to express how they feel, find commonality with peers and learn to integrate grief into their lives productively. All groups are led by clinicians with Masters-level degrees and volunteer facilitators.
Building on their strong program model and 16+ years of serving the community, The Healing Center is embarking on an inclusive and culturally-responsive initiative to strengthen the availability of peer grief support groups for youth in Seattle and King County. The overall goal of their initiative is to create a Community Grief Network that will increase the availability of peer support groups within diverse communities. In turn, they seek to strengthen their peer support groups with enhanced cultural beliefs, values and traditions that will create a more inclusive model of grief support.
Their first outcome is to develop a formalized outreach and engagement strategy that will provide decentralized peer support groups for children and teens within diverse communities in Seattle and King County. The Healing Center will meet with culturally-specific nonprofit organizations to establish a framework for developing a shared language around grief within communities. In addition, they will work with existing partners in the region, including the Western Washington Kids Bereavement Network, where they lead an advisory group to bring together leaders and practitioners from the region to share best practices and convene regular meetings.
Their second outcome is to strengthen The Healing Center’s grief support programs for children and teens to be more inclusive of cultural beliefs, values, traditions and attitudes. This innovative program will help to expand their services to learn from specific cultural perspectives, while sharing their peer support model in the greater community.