Support.
Resilience.
Healing.

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About
the Center

The Center for Grieving Children was founded in 1987 by Portland, Maine resident Bill Hemmens, following the death of his sister. In trying to find help and support for his niece Erin, Bill recognized that children need peers and caring adults to support them through their grief, because death profoundly affects every aspect of their lives.

Today, The Center for Grieving Children, still based in Portland, serves more than 4,000 grieving children, teens, families, and young adults annually through peer support, outreach, and education. Since its founding in 1987, the Center for Grieving Children has served more than 66,000 children, teens, and their families.

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The Center for Grieving Children was designed with intention -- we make the utmost effort to provide a space that feels safe, warm, welcoming, and nurturing. See for yourself by taking a virtual tour of The Center.

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Our Stories

Meet
Our Team

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Anne Heros

Executive Director

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Anne Heros

Executive Director

Anne Heros (formerly Lynch) heads a unique and critical community resource in Southern Maine, serving as executive director of the Center for Grieving Children. She was appointed to that position in July 2001 after serving as the Center's outreach director and education coordinator for four years and facilitating the Center's Bereavement Peer Support Program as a volunteer for three years. Her introduction to the Center was as a family participant who sought support.
As executive director, Anne spearheaded a capital campaign that began in 2005 and raised $2.8 million to provide a permanent home for the Center's vital programs. Today, the two-story building is the only facility in Maine dedicated solely to the support of grieving children and families. In 2011, Anne oversaw the Center's expansion of its bereavement support services into Maine's York County, establishing a satellite Center site in Sanford. Additionally, she was among the founders of America's Camp, a national summer camp that for 10 years included a network of grief-support "buddies" in its service to children and siblings of fire fighters and police who died in the 9/11 tragedy.

In a distinguished career at the Center, Anne's leadership also has produced a significant expansion of the Center's program to train providers and volunteers nationwide in the volunteer peer support model to help grieving children and families. Locally, she has guided the Center's leading role in providing grief support services to schools and civic associations, a notable example of which is the Center's innovative Multicultural Program, which works with Portland middle schools to support refugee and immigrant students from war-torn countries.

As a founding member of The National Alliance for Grieving Children, Anne continues to participate on its Advisory Council and help shape its annual national symposium. She has given presentations at many national conferences on the topic of grief and trauma, and was the recipient of the 2008 Advocacy Award by the New York-based National Foundation for Grieving Children, Teens, and Families.

Anne has served on the cabinet of the United Way of Greater Portland. She has been a member of the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary since 1994 and was president for two years, which included membership on the hospital's Board of Trustees. A native of Ireland, Anne received a graduate degree in Business from the University College Dublin, she also obtained post-graduate qualification in Education from Maynooth University. A book she co-authored, "Modern Irish Business," was a required text in Dublin for high school and undergraduate students of business and commerce. Anne is the mother of three children and has an extended family in Ireland. Her hobbies include reading, sailing, and international travel.

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Marie Sheffield

Intercultural Peer Support Training Specialist

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Marie Sheffield

Intercultural Peer Support Training Specialist

Marie B. Sheffield, Art Therapist, LCPC, Intercultural Program Advisor
Marie is responsible for the coordination of volunteer facilitators and development for the Intercultural Program. Furthermore, she creates and maintains community collaborative efforts for the purpose of promoting intercultural awareness, improving existing services and understanding the additional needs of the communities served surrounding collective loss and transition. Marie has been a consultant for the Center’s Intercultural (formerly Multicultural) Program for the past ten years. Also, she is an art therapist and clinical counselor in her private practice in Brunswick, Maine. Through her work experience, Marie has skillfulness in the areas of collective and complicated loss with children, families and groups. Marie is a firm believer that healing happens in community and in relationships.

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Janice Zurlo

York County Coordinator

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Janice Zurlo

York County Coordinator

She originally began her work with the Center in a volunteer capacity, interested in expanding grief support to children and families in York County. Since 2011, Janice is responsible for service delivery and volunteer management for the satellite program in Sanford. She works closely with community agencies and individuals to raise awareness about the service and promote community involvement. Janice first became involved in Hospice and bereavement work in 1992, serving as a volunteer for Connecticut hospice in Branford, CT. Upon moving north to Maine, she trained and volunteered for the Seacoast Hospice Bridges program for families, as a peer support group facilitator until 2008. For several years, she worked in the Wells-Ogunquit Schools as a special education technician. She lives in York County with her family and enjoys travel and gardening.

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Sue Calhoun

Frontline Coordinator

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Sue Calhoun

Frontline Coordinator

Sue is the first point of contact for families seeking to access the Center’s services. Sue manages office volunteers and maintains office supplies. She also provides administrative support for the Development Department, entering data and disseminating thank you letters to donors. She has lived in Portland since 1990, and has been active in many local organizations, including USM’s local radio station, WMPG. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Bates College, and taught high school for 15 years. She also worked at Woodfords Church, where she created the church bulletins and weekly newsletters. When not at the Center, Sue enjoys gardening, singing and contra dancing.

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Sara Asch

Bereavement Services Coordinator

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Sara Asch

Bereavement Services Coordinator

Sara shares responsibility for coordinating our Portland Bereavement Services programming. Prior to joining the staff, Sara maintained a long connection with the Center as an intern, volunteer and training consultant. Her current work at the Center involves working closely with families, volunteers and the community in the areas of grief and loss, program development, outreach, and training. Sara holds a Master's Degree in expressive therapies/counseling from Lesley University with an emphasis in art therapy. She developed an interest in art therapy while working as a K-12 art teacher, witnessing the ways students naturally processed their experiences through their artwork. Sara used art modalities in her private practice offering support to children, teens and adults during bereavement and other life transitions, and has worked as a clinician with adolescents in a group home setting. As well as creating art, Sara enjoys bicycling, kayaking, snowshoeing, reading, and- above all else- the company of family and friends.

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Lisa Morin

Director of Philanthropy

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Lisa Morin

Director of Philanthropy

Lisa helps donors fulfill their passions and interests through their giving to the Center for Grieving Children. Joining the Center in August 2015, Lisa is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing a major gifts donor program to meet the Center's philanthropic goals. Working alongside with the Executive Director, Board of Directors and Development Team, the focus of Lisa's work is to identify, maintain and expand supporters while engaging them in meaningful opportunities.

Prior to joining the Center for Grieving Children Lisa held leadership development positions at the Alzheimer's Association, Thornton Academy and Counseling Services, Inc. "I am honored and thrilled to be part of a wonderful team making a significant difference for families in Maine." Lisa lives in Southern Maine with her husband Jerry and daughter Sydney. Lisa enjoys spending time with family, holds her friends dearly and loves opportunities to learn something new.

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Beth Quinlan

Volunteer Coordinator

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Beth Quinlan

Volunteer Coordinator

Beth joined as Volunteer Coordinator June of 2016. She brings to the Center 35 years of marketing, communications and strategic planning experience. Beth has worked for Central Maine Power, Idexx Laboratories and Daymark Energy Advisors. A life-long, enthusiastic volunteer, Beth served as a facilitator at the Center from 2012 to 2016 and prior to that was a fundraising volunteer for the Center. She was also a Portland Public School volunteer for 14 years.

"My own experiencing volunteering at the Center has one of the best things I have done in my life. I am proud to live in a community where so many generously offer their time, talent and treasure to support our children at a painful time in their lives. I look forward to connecting people with the work of the Center in a way that supports the families and is rewarding for volunteers."

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Florence Young

Director of Programs

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Florence Young

Director of Programs

Florence joined the Center in July 2018 and in her role is responsible for the Center’s program delivery including ensuring excellent care and service for families, high quality support and training for volunteers, and working with the Executive Director and Director of Philanthropy to identify and implement new opportunities for service and a comprehensive organizational strategy.

Florence brings extensive experience in serving individuals and families in our community, as well as program development, implementation and evaluation. Florence has previously held positions at United Way of Greater Portland, Casey Family Services, Preble Street Resource Center, and Shalom House. Florence graduated from University of New England MSW program and currently sits on the UNE School of Social Work Community Advisory Committee.

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Emma Walker

Corporate Sponsorship & Special Events Associate

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Emma Walker

Corporate Sponsorship & Special Events Associate

Alongside the development team, she is responsible for building impactful relationships with corporate sponsors as well as organizing and coordinating the Center’s special events to reach fundraising goals. Most recently, she has worked as a campaign associate for the United Way of York County, presenting at numerous companies throughout York and securing corporate and employee donations. Emma lives in Portland with her husband, and enjoys spending her time with family and friends, writing, and frequenting local restaurants. She is incredibly grateful and proud to be a part of this generous and thoughtful community.

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Mary Bristol

Assistant Director of Bereavement Services

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Mary Bristol

Assistant Director of Bereavement Services

Mary is responsible for ensuring smooth and effective process for families seeking to access support services from first contact with the Center to placement in group. She provides oversight for bereavement staff and volunteers to deliver effective programming and ensure fidelity with the Center’s model. Mary also coordinates internship experiences for bachelor and master’s level students.

Mary brings extensive experience in serving children and families, as well as program oversight. She has previously assisted children and families with adoptive and foster care related issues, provided outpatient counseling, managed a residential center for adolescent girls, coordinated intake into mental health services for a large state-wide provider, and assessed mental health disability claims. Mary graduated from the Smith College School for Social Work. She enjoys biking, camping in remote locations, and reading non-fiction.

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Patty O’Brien

Annual Giving Associate

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Patty O’Brien

Annual Giving Associate

Patty joined the Center in July as Annual Giving Associate. She will work alongside the Development team and the Director of Philanthropy, and is responsible for the successful implementation and management of individual annual giving at the Center for Grieving Children. Prior to joining the Center, Patty has worked in various organizations in development, communications and sales roles. In her most recent previous role in the nonprofit sector, Patty served as the Development & Communications Manager of the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), Inc. During that time she oversaw major media communications, publications, and assisted with national presentations and oversight of SAVE’s National Youth Advisory Board. Patty is thrilled to be part of such a cohesive team, and to share her passion for the welfare of children and their families at the Center for Grieving Children. Patty enjoys continuous learning, athletics, music, art, spending time with family and friends and travel.

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Monicah Paquette

Intercultural Peer Support Program Coordinator

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Monicah Paquette

Intercultural Peer Support Program Coordinator

Monicah is a Goodwill AmeriCorps service member and is excited to serve her year as the Intercultural Peer Support Program Coordinator. She helps with the planning of activities, supporting the children and volunteers, community outreach, and liaising with school partners and other collaborators. She has worked with youth of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds in Alaska, New York, Haiti, and Maine. Previous places of employment includes Pine Tree Camp, Green Chimneys, rural Alaska, RSU 18 school district, and 21st Century Kids of F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N. County. Monicah graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a B.S. in Rehabilitation Services. When she is not working at the Center she enjoys hiking, playing with her dogs, spending time with her family, and going on day trips around New England.

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Cathy MacKinnon

Executive Assistant

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Cathy MacKinnon

Executive Assistant

Born and raised in Maine, Cathy has over 14 years of experience working for non-profits in Portland at the Mitchell Institute and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. She is excited to be joining the Center and to work closely with her colleagues to create positive impact in the community. Cathy enjoys all the wonderful activities Maine and the city of Portland have to offer and spending lots of time with her family.

Our
Board of Directors

  • President – Julie Grosvenor, M.D.
  • Vice President – Mary Larkin
  • Treasurer – Kevin Chase
  • Secretary – Robert Baldacci
  • At Large - William Kany
  • At Large - Shikha Vasaiwala
  • Past President – Peter Herzog
  • Abdullahi Ahmed, Ph.D.
  • Sandy Bagwell, M.D.
  • Jenilee Bryant
  • Christopher Cimino
  • Peter Dewitt
  • Katherine Hogan
  • John Holland
  • Tom Kelly
  • Catherine Lamson
  • Sara McLaughlin
  • Nicola Morris
  • Cindy Williams Nelson
  • Diana Nelson
  • Jeannine Pendergast
  • Mark Pettingill
  • Gerard Salvo
  • Shikha Vasaiwala
  • Mike Wilson

Make a
Difference

Volunteers are the heart of The Center for Grieving Children. Last year, volunteers contributed 28,000 hours of support. We have many opportunities for community members to volunteer in many different capacities, from leading support groups to helping out in our office and at events. Interested in volunteering? See how you can get involved!

Get Involved

FAQs

Can I get information about how to talk with a child about a loved one experiencing a serious illness or dying?

Yes, Center staff is available to answer questions and concerns about supporting children dealing with a family member’s serious illness or death over the phone. We offer resources, information, and referrals as needed.

How do I sign up for a group?

Call the Center to learn more about our peer support services. We ask individuals and family members to come to the Center to meet with staff prior to participating in Center group services. This is an opportunity for families to ask questions, see our group meeting space, and explore if the Center’s peer support model will meet their needs.

What is the cost of attending the Center’s groups?

All of our services are free of cost to participants.

When do groups meet?

Tender Living Care (TLC) Groups meet Monday evenings in Portland. Bereavement groups meet Tuesday through Thursday evenings in Portland. Bereavement Groups meet Wednesday evening in Sanford.

How many participants are in each group?

Each peer support group may include up to 8 participants, with 2-3 trained facilitators.

Do parents have to attend with children?

Children age 13 and younger must have an adult who remains on site while the children participate in support group activities. Children age 14 and older are able to independently attend the Center. Some parents arrange, in advance, to attend the Center’s Adult Support Groups that run simultaneously with our children’s groups.

Get in touch with us!

(207) 775-5216

Interested in joining the Center? We’re here to answer any questions you may have about our services and what we can do for you. Please don’t hesitate to call or send us a message.