Grieving Youth Are a Primary Concern at Gerard’s House - SantaFe.com

According to the Children’s Bereavement Estimation Model, 1 in 10 New Mexico children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the age of 18. When that happens, where will they get the support they need? If they live in Northern New Mexico, the answer is Gerard’s House, a nonprofit organization serving the Northern New Mexico community since 1997. But they can’t do it alone. Your help is vital.

What Is The Gerard’s House Mission?

Gerard’s House is Santa Fe’s center for kids grieving the death of — or separation from — a loved one. Their mission is to create safe spaces where healing happens through acceptance and peer support for grieving children, teenagers, families, and adults.

Because so many families experience barriers when they need grief support, Gerard’s House energetically focuses on reaching the city’s most vulnerable grieving youth — kids who have immigrated from war-torn and impoverished regions, and kids coping with homelessness.

Gerard’s House also offers mobile programs with support services to kids and teenagers who would not otherwise be able to access them. The Stepping Stones mobile unit is sent out to the homes of families with young people who are coping with a life-threatening illness, or are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Grief is tough for kids. The death of a parent, best friend, sibling, or other important person can be a life-changing experience. Separation is difficult, but it’s even harder when they don’t have food, shelter, or other basic needs met. So, though the core mission is grief support, Gerard’s House also assesses all grieving kids in their programs and can provide some emergency items direction, including food, childcare, clothing, diapers, and toiletries.

What Kind of Support Does Gerard’s House Offer?

Gerard’s House’s role is particularly relevant in New Mexico, the state with the second highest percentage of bereaved children nationally. While many grieving children and teenagers feel unsupported or alone, 80% of Nuestra Jornada (Our Journey) school-aged participants report feeling more supported by others after 10 weeks of grief support groups.

They do it using modalities such as play, talking circles, and art. In fact, Gerard’s House regularly partners with arts organizations and other collaborative partners to create activity packets. These packets are used in support groups but are also delivered to the homes of grieving families. To date, Gerard’s House has provided free grief support services to over 10,000 youth who have experienced loss or separation from loved ones.

Services include 22 weekly peer grief support groups, a mobile unit, individual sessions, a summer camp, crisis response services, and support for parents/caregivers. All are free of charge and bilingual for youth ages 3 – 21 who have experienced life-changing loss, such as the death of a parent or other loved one. They also provide five weekly grief support groups for adults in English and Spanish.

The primary programs available at Gerard’s House include four grief support groups for ages 3 -6, 7 – 10, 11 – 14, and 15 – 20. Also included are loss support groups for foster youth, ages 8 – 18; support for families living with a terminally ill member, summer camps for grieving youth and foster youth, and special loss support programs for teens.

How Can You Help?

Much of the funding for Gerard’s House is attained through grants from foundations and other nonprofits, including the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, and others. A large part comes from donations by people just like you, who care about the mental health of our young community members, and their families.

As added incentive, Gerard’s House has been challenged to raise $25,000 in 90 days and three donors have pledged to match all donations. Get in on the action by donating today!

To find out more about Gerard’s House and how you can make a difference in the lives of grieving youth, visit the website.

This article was posted by David Salcido

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