Support.
Resilience.
Healing.

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About
the Center

The Center for Grieving Children's mission is to provide a safe space, loving peer support, outreach and education to grieving children, teens, families and the community. The Center 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 continues to offer hope and supports the resilience of children, teens, and families in Maine through a no-cost peer support family model. Its peer support group services are led by dedicated and highly trained staff and volunteers on-site and virtually using the Center’s facilities in Portland and Sanford, Maine, thanks to the generous support of our community. From July 2021 - June 2022, the Center served 591 individuals in peer support groups.

Start The Tour

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.

FAQs

How do I sign up for a peer support group?

For more information about our Bereavement and Tender Living Care programs, and to perhaps determine if your family would be eligible for our our virtual support groups, please contact cgc@cgcmaine.org, or 207-775-5216 and someone from our program team will be in touch with you shortly.

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. During Covid-19, the initial family meeting is done online, with a chance for all family members to ask questions and learn more about the Center.

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 typically meet in-person in Portland on Monday evenings, but are still being virtually to protect our families. Bereavement groups meet virtually on Monday evenings, and 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.

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. Please reach out to use at cgc@cgcmaine.org or 207-775-5216 and someone will be in touch with you shortly.

Hear
Our Stories

Meet
Our Team

Learn More

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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Sara Asch

Director of Outreach and Education

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Sara Asch

Director of Outreach and Education

Sara holds responsibility for identifying Center volunteer training needs, developing the training curriculum to meet those needs, and co-facilitating initial, ongoing, and topical facilitator trainings throughout the year. As a gifted and knowledgeable public speaker, with years of service to the community for crisis response, and education through webinars, newsletters, and trainings, Sara hosts our Wednesday night Bereavement Peer Support groups. 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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Mary Bristol

Director of Programs

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Mary Bristol

Director of Programs

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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Justine Mugabo

Intercultural Program Coordinator

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Justine Mugabo

Intercultural Program Coordinator

Justine joins the Center as the Intercultural Program Coordinator. Justine arrived in Maine in July 2019 and was born in Bujumbura, Burundi from Rwandese parent.

Justine is currently a Board Member and Lead Volunteer for In Her Presence, a non- profit organization created and led by immigrant women living in Maine. In Her Presence strives to bring together immigrant women from across communities and generations to ensure that Maine’s economic agenda includes the aspirations and needs of immigrant women. Justine collaborates in developing policy, programming and resources, provides interpretation services, coordinates classwork assignments, and supports students through individual assistance.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and is fluent in English, French and Kinyarwanda.

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Jamie Schwellenbach

Grief Services Manager

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Jamie Schwellenbach

Grief Services Manager

Jamie is responsible for providing oversight and general support to the Tender Living Care program, and assists in the delivery of the Intercultural Peer Support Program. Jamie brings a wealth of experience working with children and families in a variety of educational and therapeutic settings. She was a math and physics teacher at Catherine McAuley High School for more than 10 years prior to completing her Master’s in counseling and dance movement therapy at Lesley University. Jamie has most recently held clinical positions at Pathways Merrymeeting Center and Woodfords Family Services, where she supported children with special needs and their families. She feels fortunate for her involvement as an intern at the Center for Grieving Children during graduate school, and is thrilled to be returning as part of the team. Jamie enjoys teaching and taking dance and movement classes, and finds her balance doing almost anything outdoors connecting with the natural world.

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Emma Walker

Development Manager

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Emma Walker

Development Manager

Alongside the development team, Emma works to ensure the organization achieves full-service capacity and service delivery throughout Maine by meeting or exceeding fundraising goals through community-engagement functions: targeted corporate relations; marketing and communications that engage donors, volunteers, and additional target audiences; and special projects as needed. Responsible for building impactful relationships with our corporate partners as well as organizing and coordinating the Center’s special events, Emma lives in South Portland with her husband and daughter. In her free time, she 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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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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Cathy MacKinnon

Business Manager

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Cathy MacKinnon

Business Manager

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.

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Sara Reddick

Volunteer and Program Coordinator

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Sara Reddick

Volunteer and Program Coordinator

Sara works closely with the program and development teams to identify and meet volunteer needs for the Center. She is responsible for volunteer recruitment and onboarding. This includes developing resources and communications to support volunteers, facilitators and prospective volunteers. Sara joined the Center in 2020 and has previous experience working with volunteers in non-profits that support families and children in North Carolina, Ohio, and Maine.

Sara graduated from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC in 2010 with a Bachelor's in Global Studies. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening and working on creative projects with friends including both music and writing.

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Danielle Alexander

Bereavement Services Coordinator (York County)

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Danielle Alexander

Bereavement Services Coordinator (York County)

Danielle is responsible for providing outreach, family and community support, and leading the bereavement night of service in York County.

Danielle began her work with the Center as a group facilitator in 2012 and has been in the role of Team Coordinator since 2018. Prior to coming to the Center, Danielle gained experience working at non-profits with families and children as a Family Visitor with Maine Families and coordinating programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Maine.

Danielle enjoys spending time with her family hiking, kayaking, watching sports, and being active outdoors.

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Elizabeth Schrider

Grief Services Coordinator

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Elizabeth Schrider

Grief Services Coordinator

Elizabeth shares responsibility for coordinating Bereavement Services which includes developing and maintaining relationships with our families and volunteers, supporting Bereavement Peer Support Groups, both in person and virtually, and providing outreach and community support.

Elizabeth has an undergraduate degree in Child Development from the University of Central Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University. Elizabeth has worked with children and their families in a variety of settings. Her most recent experience was working in both a school-based and outpatient setting to provide therapeutic services to middle school students and their families.

Elizabeth moved to Maine in 2015 and fell in love with all that Maine and New England have to offer. Elizabeth frequently plans day trips to sight see and explore and enjoys attending local events, fairs, and finding new favorite restaurants. Elizabeth also enjoys crafting, playing board games, and spending time with her niece and nephews.

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Katy Sargent

Grants and Communications Specialist

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Katy Sargent

Grants and Communications Specialist

As the Grants and Communications Specialist, Katy supports the Center for Grieving Children by researching, writing, and submitting proposals that help the Center’s free programs receive essential funding. Katy has worked in the Portland, Maine non-profit sector for over a decade, most recently as a development and communications professional at LearningWorks, where she performed a wide array of duties such as social media management, event management, grant writing, and individual donor outreach.

Katy is an active volunteer in the community with organizations such as the Telling Room and the Maine Academy of Modern Music. She holds an MFA in creative non-fiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program and occasionally writes and publishes work in her free time. She is an enthusiastic reader in an active book group. Katy resides in Portland with her two wonderful daughters. They love exploring museums together and trying new restaurants.

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Charlotte Mickelinc

Administrative Assistant

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Charlotte Mickelinc

Administrative Assistant

Charlotte, under the direction of the Business Manager, assists in the day-to-day operations at the Center for Grieving Children and helps keep the office running smoothly. She joined the Center in April 2023, and is grateful to be a part of such a meaningful and positive organization in her community.

Prior to joining the Center for Grieving Children, Charlotte worked as the Administrative Assistant for the Jacman Group in Biddeford and as the Children’s Librarian at the Porter Memorial Library in Machias, Maine. Charlotte is a life-long Mainer. She resides in Portland with her daughter and enjoys exploring the city, sunny days at the beach, and spending time with her friends and family.

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Kristin Lash

Events Assistant

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Kristin Lash

Events Assistant

As the Events Assistant, Kristin works closely with Center staff, volunteers, and community partners to produce creative high-quality events that increase awareness, engagement, and fiscal support for the Center’s free programs and services. With over 15 years of experience in communications, event planning, and client/community relations, Kristin is very excited and grateful to be a part of the Center and contribute to its impactful work.

As an avid runner and nature enthusiast, Kristin feels most at home exploring the outdoors with her affectionate and adventurous rescue pup, Maude, usually following closely behind. In her actual home, she can be found surrounded by her ever-growing collection of books and plants. Kristin holds a BA in Journalism and Gender Studies from Loyola University of Maryland and a Masters in Social Work with a certificate in disaster relief and collective trauma from Tulane University. She is a founding organizer of the Portland Free Pantry, a free mobile pantry and fridge focused on increasing access, awareness, and community engagement in food justice and mutual aid work across the city.

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Hanna Callinan

AmeriCorps

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Hanna Callinan

AmeriCorps

In May of 2023 Hanna completed her undergraduate studies at Lewis & Clark College, getting a BA in psychology. Hanna previously interned at a children’s inpatient facility called Trillium Family Services in Portland, Oregon. She is now at the Center for Grieving Children working through the Goodwill Northern New England AmeriCorps. She assists in the facilitation of the Intercultural Peer Support groups and works alongside our Intercultural Program Coordinator to plan and organize facilitation nights Tuesday-Thursday with our Portland Public School partners. In addition, she also facilitates on Monday nights in bereavement groups.

She is new to Maine, as she just moved from Minnesota/Oregon in August of 2023. She is excited to hike/run around the area and check out the farmers markets.

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Program Interns

Program Interns

At the Center for Grieving Children, we truly understand that partnership with community members is essential in supporting our grieving children and families. Each year, the Center is thrilled to partner with numerous colleges and universities to accept interns from a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs with concentrations in psychology, social work, education, and counseling. Center interns gain valuable, real world experience in supporting grieving families that supplements their classroom academics, and provides Center staff and facilitators with new perspectives and ideas for working with grieving families.


Center interns come from programs including:

-University of Maine School of Social Work; Graduate Program
-University of New England School of Social Work; Graduate Program
-University of New England; Undergraduate Psychology Program
-University of Southern Maine School of Social Work; Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
-University of Southern Maine; Graduate Counseling Program
-York County Community College; Associates Degree Program

We are so lucky to have them!

Our
Board of Directors

  • President – Doug Currier
  • Vice President – Kim Donnelly
  • Treasurer – Sara McLaughlin
  • Secretary – Lindsey Kerkela
  • Immediate Past President– Michael Wilson
  • At Large - Kathy D. Baker
  • At Large - Jack Yao
  • Andrew Baldacci
  • Brian Cho
  • Maureen Clancy
  • Kris Eimicke
  • Pete Dewitt
  • Thomas Kelly
  • Rob McPheeters
  • Diana Nelson
  • Mary Ottolini MD
  • Jeannine Pendergast
  • Liz Plizga
  • Eric Swanson
  • Monique Violette
  • Holly Margeson Gamache
  • Jennifer Kimball
  • Jerry Lyon

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

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.