Highmark Caring Place, a Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents, and Their Families, provides peer support groups and referral services, at no cost, to those who have experienced the death of a loved one.
Children have been called "forgotten mourners." In Pennsylvania, thousands of children experience the death of a father or mother, sister or brother, grandparent or other family member, every year. These children feel alone. The Highmark Caring Place is a safe place where grieving children and their families talk about their feelings and memories with each other in the presence of caring volunteers. The Caring Place helps grieving children know they are not alone. The Highmark Caring Place is a volunteer based program. Our volunteers are the HEART of our program. Caring Place volunteers come from all walks of life. No special education or experience is needed to become a Caring Place volunteer - just an ability to truly listen and support others. Children and adults meet in age-specific groups, sharing thoughts and feelings, offering peer support. Volunteers facilitate groups of children or adults, listening, encouraging, helping them to express memories and feelings.
This place is amazing!!! If you are looking for an opportunity to help people and be able to bear witness to the difference your help makes, then this is the place for you. You are able to watch the children and families change from feeling alone and lost in the world to a hopeful and happy again. I can't praise this program and the staff at the Caring Place enough. This is a great place to volunteer... Hands down :)
For those folks who want to help others help themselves, who are willing to be well trained by a caring, professional staff of a highly respected program and organization, and who love team work, there is no better place to volunteer! :-)
You can volunteer to clean the peninsula, and do a fine job; you can pitch in at a shelter and make someone's life easier; or you can volunteer at the Caring Place and learn from them how to actually help these children deal with their pain and loss. It was simply no contest for us.
The stories are hard to hear, but the rules for volunteers guide you through and help you guide the children to helping each other through planned activities and simple "common ground" sharing in each group. In the end, you can see progress in their attitudes and a strengthening of self-images.
Working with the Caring Place Families exposes you to some of the bravest individuals you will ever meet. I have come away from each CP session a better person because of the courageous people who pass through the Caring Place on their grief journey.
I refer to the Caring Place as a diamond in the ruff. From its location, one would never expect the breath-takingly amazing things that happen at the Caring Place. With its beautiful and serene environment, families alike are able to express themselves; which is extremely important during this time in their lives. There is honestly no other place on earth like this. It grants those in need with the tools, support and guidance they need to ultimately survive. Every person that experiences the Caring Place instantly develops a special place in their hearts to keep these memories. The wonderful things the Caring Place has to offer is without a doubt unattainably commemdable.
Following the journeys of families who are dealing with a loved one's death is a true privilege and honor. It is an experience I cannot compare to my previous volunteer work. The rewards of volunteering for Highmark Caring Place far outweigh the time commitment. It has made me a better person in life.