One of the greatest challenges we all face in life is loss. The loss of a loved one, the loss of opportunities or the loss of security can be among life’s most formative, impactful experiences – especially for young people. When a child lacks the ability to cope and grieve, untreated grief can set off a chain of behavioral reactions that can detract from the child’s potential to live a full, healthy life.
Uplift Center for Grieving Children is the leading developer and provider of programs and resources to support children in the Philadelphia community who are grieving, or coping with, a loss. For almost a decade, Wescott has been proud to support Uplift and their mission in a multitude of ways. The company provides financial support through sponsorship of Uplift’s major fundraisers, and the team provides personal support through volunteer efforts and attendance at their events. Notably, Wescott Partner and Senior Financial Advisor, Dave Lafferty, has been an Uplift Board Member for almost ten years. He recently connected with Darcy Walker Krause, Executive Director of Uplift Center for Grieving Children, to discuss the importance of supporting children in grief and what Uplift is doing now to support those confronting loss due to the tragic COVID-19 pandemic.
Uplift Center for Grieving Children was founded in 1995 as part of the Bereavement Program of St. Christopher’s and incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization in 2000. “Receiving support to grieve properly, especially in childhood, is critically important. Since our inception, we’ve implemented evidence-based approaches to uplift the City of Philadelphia through building access to resources and fostering a peer-to-peer grief support community,” said Darcy. “Today, we have expanded Uplift to include more than 200 support groups, in schools, community partner locations, and in six sites around the City of Philadelphia. We offer a variety of grief programming, including grief groups that are specific to those who have suffered a loss due to COVID-19.”
Some of Uplift’s key partnerships include the Juvenile Justice Services Center, the Attic Youth Center, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office and local schools. With these partners, Uplift is able to support children who have lost a loved one to violence or an overdose or are facing alienation from loved ones due to their LGBTQ+ identity.
“Cultivating programs with a diverse set of partners allows Uplift to really tailor the resources they provide, hone in on the unique circumstances of loss and provide as much personalized attention. As a Board Member, we continually look for ways to expand our network to grow these strategic partnerships and reach more children,” added Dave.
Most recently, Uplift announced new partnerships with the Philadelphia Eagles and the School District of Philadelphia to provide COVID-19 relief support. The Eagles generously granted $35,000 to Uplift to fund the development of programs for frontline COVID-19 responders. In partnership with the School District, Uplift launched the Philly HopeLine (1-833-PHL-HOPE) to support children and families dealing with the loss, stress and other crises brought on by this difficult time. The HopeLine will be live through August at least and is staffed by professionals from Uplift.
No child should grieve alone, but for some children, the support they receive from their family, peers or school simply isn’t adequate, or specialized, enough to address their unique situations. “By connecting children with experts in grief and trauma, we are able to ensure that children not only have a support system in place – but they have a support system that deeply understands the process of grief and some of the behaviors that can result from suffering a loss and not having the tools to cope,” said Darcy. “Creating a healthy support system brings a bit of light and hope in a dark time that can go a long way to guide the healing process.”
Loss and grief are universal. Right now, as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, most everyone is grieving. Whether it is the loss of a loved one to the virus, the loss of a job or the loss of experience, no one is untouched. “COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for our community. In addition to the loss of life, we are seeing an increase in violence toward children and high instances of trauma among frontline and essential workers,” shared Darcy. “Through the generosity of donors and partners and expertise of our staff, we were able to adapt our programs quickly. Specifically, we have put in place a virtual ChildLine network for children suffering a loss of safety, a crisis coordinator for frontline workers and a digital hub for activities for children.”
In addition to addressing immediate needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, Uplift is already working with partners to determine what long-term grieving support programs can be developed to best help children and families cope with losses of all kinds caused by the virus.
When you help shape one life, you help shape the entire community. “All children deserve safety and comfort. The work of Uplift Center for Grieving Children is so important in helping to bring healing to children who are dealing with unimaginable loss and trauma and who might not have otherwise had the resources to access help,” said Dave. “Comforting one child in a time of need is enough to inspire that child to make healthy, positive and productive decisions going forward. One by one, by giving children the tools they need to grieve in a healthy way, we can build a stronger community and ultimately help eliminate some of the causes of the tremendous grief children face today.”
To learn more about Uplift Center for Grieving Children, or help support their mission, please visit their website: www.upliftphilly.org.