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Community Spotlight: The Center for Grieving Children

The Center for Grieving Children is a nonprofit organization that provides a safe space, loving peer support, outreach, and education to grieving children, teens, young adults, families, and the community. With services in Portland, Sanford, and virtually, the Center provides services at no cost that are led by dedicated and highly trained staff and volunteers thanks to the generous support of the community.
 
The Center is the ONLY one of its kind in southern Maine providing year-round peer support in a “family-style” model. Studies show that the better parents and caregivers cope, the more successful children are. 

The Center offers three primary peer support programs:  

  • Bereavement groups provide grief support for children, teens, their parents and caregivers, young adults, bereaved parents, and widows/widowers/partners. 
  • Tender Living Care provides support for children, teens, young adults, parents, and caregivers through the changes that come with a family member’s diagnosis of serious illness. 
  • Intercultural groups create healing communities for children and teens resettled in Maine from countries that have experienced war, violent conflict, and natural disaster, offered in collaboration with Portland Public Schools.

Last year, with the help of more than 200 volunteers donating more than 19,130 hours of time, the Center served:  

  • 647 participants in Peer Support Groups  
  • 911 individuals via phone and email
  • 1,733 individuals via our community education and outreach efforts delivered at schools, workplaces, nonprofit organizations, and other youth serving organizations—wherever there are grieving children and families.
     

Currently, the Center is experiencing rapid growth in Virtual Bereavement Groups. Offering virtual groups has allowed the organization to serve grieving Mainers outside of the traditional geographic areas of Cumberland and York Counties. This helps further the Center’s vision of ensuring that no one in our communities grieves alone, but it also means that more volunteers are needed than ever before. The Center is prioritizing volunteer recruitment and training efforts to ensure that all peer support groups have what they need to be effective for families who are coming to the Center at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Want to help? All facilitators receive 30 hours of training and complete a background check before being placed in a support group. No previous experience is necessary! You will be a part of a caring community and receive excellent ongoing support and training. The Center now offers both in-person and online groups. Of her volunteer experience, Facilitator Lynn Abood said, “The Center is a magical place where people come together at their most vulnerable and are lifted up by their group members and by the love that grows in our garden, flows through the very walls of the building and emanates from every heart that is here to hold them.” Visit https://www.cgcmaine.org/get-involved/ to learn more about volunteering and to sign up for a Volunteer Info Session.
 

 

Want another way to help? Donations help to ensure that families can continue accessing support at no cost, for as long as needed, regardless of income level or insurance coverage. Visit https://www.cgcmaine.org/donate/ to learn more.

Volunteers are truly the heart of the Center. They do everything from facilitating the Bereavement, TLC and Intercultural groups to planning and executing events, organizing art supplies, keeping the gardens beautiful and sitting on the Center’s incredible board of directors. The Center for Grieving Children is so grateful to the wonderful community they’ve been a part of for 36 years. 

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