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#LIVINGPROOF

The difference you can make when you're all for health.

A community of support for kids and families

The death of a loved one can turn a child's life upside down. The emptiness and sadness can be overwhelming. And so can discovering the way to hope and healing.

But grieving children and their families do find hope at the Highmark Caring Place. It's a safe place where children, teens and their families come together to find support from others who understand what they're going through.

Available at no cost to anyone who needs help, the Caring Place's program provides structure, support and friendship as kids and adults help each other through the grieving process.

These kids and their families are Living Proof that when people help each other, everyone ends up stronger.

Twenty years of helping children — neighbors caring for neighbors

For more than 20 years, children and their families in the Pittsburgh region have had access to grief support services at the Highmark Caring Place. Since the first Caring Place opened, three more locations have been added in western and central Pennsylvania:

  • Cranberry region
  • Harrisburg region
  • Erie region

Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, helped guide the original philosophy of the Caring Place as the Honorary Chairman.

"In this place, people are surrounded by others who remind them that it's all right to be who they are at that moment," said Rogers. "That is so important for children — and adults."

"One in five children will lose a loved one by the time they graduate from high school," said Terese Vorsheck, director, Highmark Caring Place. "There's a belief that kids are resilient and that they bounce back on their own from tragedy.

"The truth is that the impact of a death on a child is significant. It affects them in a variety of ways, and it can last a lifetime.

"Kids who are grieving feel different. And all alone. But hope and healing are possible. Kids can cope with tragedies when they can share their feelings openly with their peers who are going through a similar experience," adds Vorsheck.

A safe place for kids to heal

The Caring Place helps grieving kids through peer support.

Children and their families come together to the Caring Place over 10 biweekly meetings (but they can attend the program for as long as they need). They share meals together. Then the kids gather in smaller, age-specific groups so they can each safely share more about their experiences and their feelings. And the adults meet with the other adults.

Not only do families and children find peer support during the program, they also connect with a network of volunteers who join them in their journey. Nearly 650 adults, many of them Highmark employees, volunteer with the families at the Caring Place. Each volunteer receives 26 hours of training.

"The program is free of charge and open to any grieving family and child who needs help. It's not just for Highmark members. Highmark is the only insurance company in the nation that's made this type of commitment to providing a safe place for grieving families to heal," added Vorsheck.

Learn more about the Caring Place

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