Healing hurts in life’s crazy quilt

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 14, 2002

Stitching together squares of fabrics otherwise unfit for any other purpose produces a beautiful quilt. Just like a quilt, the &uot;Peace By Piece&uot; program takes the broken pieces of a child’s life after they’ve lost someone they love and puts them back together.

Edmarc Hospice for Children is seeking candidates who can volunteer time to helping children who are going through the loss of a loved one. According to Anne Chisman Hogge of Edmarc, the program, &uot;Peace By Piece, was established for the purpose of bringing peace into a child’s life one &uot;piece&uot; at a time.

Hogge explained that Peace By Peace was established as an interfaith program that offers support groups for grieving children and teens. The goal of the project is to help children express grief and adapt to life following the death of someone they love.

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&uot;We are currently seeking support group facilitators,&uot; said Hogge. &uot;Each facilitator must be competent at creating a trusting, caring environment for children. The candidate must be good at establishing relationships with children, and they must be able to listen and to share. Each candidate must also possess high levels of maturity, compassion and acceptance of others along with the ability to maintain a good professional manner in situations that may cross over into personal matters.&uot;

Facilitators would be required to give of their time only two evenings a month, on the second and fourth Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Each volunteer must complete the application process and attend a 30-hour grief support training course prior to placement, said Hogge. Orientation takes place at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Edmarc’s Chesapeake facility.

Training sessions will be held Jan. 7, 9, 12, 21, 23, and 26th. Because the program involves children, applicants will also be required to pass a criminal history check, and a tuberculosis test. Edmarc would like for each volunteer to make a two year commitment to this important program.

Peace by Piece is a free service to the children, and as Hogge said, it provides a safe place for them to share pain and they learn to express their feelings in a positive manner.

&uot;Peer support groups are established by ages ranging, 3 to 5-years old, 6 to 9, 10 to 13 and through their teen years,&uot; said Hogge. &uot;Groups of children meet in the same location to give the kids a sense of familiarity, comfort and stability at a time when they feel their world is falling apart. The kids may stay in the support groups for as long as they feel the need, and additional services are available through professionals who would continue working with the child and they provide families with alternate referral information.&uot;

Edmarc Hospice for Children is the oldest pediatric facility of its type in the nation. Among many other programs, Edmarc has offered bereavement support groups for grieving children and teens twice a year in the past.

&uot;The need in our area told us this simply wasn’t enough,&uot; said Hogge. &uot;Thanks to a &uot;Faith in Action’ grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, children’s support groups are now offered year round. Joining with Edmarc in this effort to help grieving children heal is Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, and in keeping with its 50-year history of serving families and children, JFS is a dedicated partner in making Peace By Piece an emotional safe haven for kids and teens.&uot;

For more information on Edmarc, Peace By Peace or Jewish Family Service, call Hogge at 312-8999, or visit Edmarc online at www.edmarc.org.