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Nonprofit of the Month: Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program

Years in existence: 14 years, since 2006

Total number of employees: Two — Melody Ray, Healing Patch coordinator, and Shalen Steinbugl, volunteer coordinator/grief specialist

Type of nonprofit: 501c3 Charitable Foundation

Populations served: The Healing Patch serves children from preschool up to 18 years of age in both Blair and Cambria counties, with centers located in Altoona and Ebensburg.

Area(s) of focus: The Healing Patch is a free peer support program designed specifically for children and their families who have suffered the death of a loved one, such as a parent, sibling, grandparent or close family member or friend. The Healing Patch offers a safe environment where grieving children and their families can discover they are not alone in their grief by interacting with others who have encountered similar losses.

What services or programs does your nonprofit provide?

Families who are enrolled in the Healing Patch meet two Tuesday evenings each month during the school year. Every evening begins with a meal together, and then the children break into age-specific groups, where they engage in various activities and group discussions using art, drama, storytelling and play to express their feelings. While the children are engaged, parents/guardians meet separately to discuss the impact of their loved one’s death on the family and learn how to help their children cope. These group sessions are led by our trained and dedicated volunteers.

For grieving children who may have difficulty attending a Healing Patch center, the Healing Patch offers a six-week In-School Peer Support Group, which is co-facilitated by a Healing Patch staff member and at least one school staff member. Additionally, the Healing Patch provides community education on topics related to loss, grief, death and dying. The Healing Patch also manages a Lending Library of more than 400 grief-related resources that are available to anyone in the community.

Contact information:

The Healing Patch is a self-referral program for families at any time throughout the year. Simply call

1-800-445-6262. You will be asked information regarding the loss, how the child(ren) are coping and be provided support and grief education, as needed. Next, your family will participate in an orientation meeting held at the Healing Patch, where you can tour the facility and meet some of the staff and volunteers. Additionally, this meeting will help to determine if a peer support group will adequately meet the needs of each family member.

Additional information:

Volunteers are the heart of the Healing Patch. Without volunteers, these free services could not exist for grieving children and their families in our community. Healing Patch volunteers can facilitate groups, serve food, greet families or complete sewing projects. To learn more, please visit homenursingagency.com or contact Shalen Steinbugl, Volunteer Coordinator/Grief Specialist at 947-7140.

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