Susquehanna Health's Heartworks bereavement program for children and teens recently received a $25,400 grant from the Williamsport Lycoming Community Foundation (WLCF). The Heartworks grant was one of 20 community awards announced during the foundation's grants presentation and reception held July 8 at the Community Arts Center, Williamsport.
Heartworks, a free service provided by SH Home Care & Hospice, offers a safe and caring environment in which children, teens and their family members can express their feelings following the loss of loved ones. The Heartworks program uses art, music, play therapy and peer support to help children understand and work through their emotions. The program's success over the last year led staff to seek additional funding for program expansion. According to Children's Bereavement Coordinator Pam Wollet, the pilot program was originally designed as a family-based peer support program for children ages 6-11 and their parents or caregivers with a one-time registration period. Due to recognized need, the program is being expanded to include peer support groups for preschoolers and teens with help for parents and caregivers.
"We found that several of the families coming to us for help during their time of grief included children in multiple age groups," Wollet explains. "As a result, we recognized a need for helping the whole family through the process of healing." In addition, registration for the program will be open throughout the school year from September through May and new groups will be coordinated as needed. A Bereavement Support camp is also being planned for the summer of 2011.
"This grant supports the program expansion necessary to meet the needs of grieving families in our community, as well as offers professional training for new volunteers," explains Wollet. The new volunteer training program began July 22 and includes 22 hours of instruction. "Without this grant, it would be very difficult for us to meet the growing needs of the Heartworks program. We are very grateful," says Wollet. For more information about Susquehanna Health's free Heartworks program or the volunteer program, contact Pam Wollet or Cherrie Serra at (570) 320-7691.
Pictured above, left to right are: Administrative Director of Home Care & Hospice Patricia McGee, Children's Bereavement Coordinator Pamela Wollet, Hospice Manager Ann Riggs and Hospice Medical Director Alexander Nesbitt, MD.