school crisis program gets funding boost from supporting foundations

Every tragedy carries its own story, believes Diane Snyder-Cowan, director of the Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center. If that's the case, children in particular may need help in translating those stories into something they can understand.

Thanks to funding the hospice recently received for its school crisis response programs, deciphering scary or sad incidents will continue to be a part of its mission. Earlier this month, the hospice was gifted grants from The Ridgecliff Foundation ($25,000) and The Pentair Foundation ($5,000). The money will assist staff development that engenders the nonprofit's relationship with area schools when death-related crises occur. Both foundations have provided the program annual support since 2007.

"Our grief counselors help meet the unique circumstances" of tragedy, says Snyder-Cowan. Counselors provide on-site support for such incidents as suicides, shootings, accidental deaths, unexpected sudden deaths, and anticipated deaths due to serious illness. Each response is carefully planned in coordination with the school's staff.

The resource is particularly needed in light of recent tragedies in Boston and Newtown, notes the program director. The funding will allow employment of a liaison to assist schools in their crisis planning. It will also pay for "crisis kits" filled with books, arts and crafts, and other materials to help children and teens develop a normalized view of the grieving process.

Snyder-Cowan views the program as an extra layer of encouragement to go along with in-school grief counselors.

"Everyone should have this kind of support," she says. "We're grateful to our foundations for supporting this mission."

SOURCE: Diane Snyder Cowan
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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