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.

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

Are peer support groups still taking place during Covid-19?

Center staff are currently working from home, however our doors are far from shut. We are still holding peer support groups, just in a virtual format, and are still here to respond to email and phone requests for support. 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.

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. 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 meet Monday evenings in Portland. Bereavement groups meet Tuesday through Thursday evenings in Portland. Bereavement Groups meet Wednesday evening in Sanford. During Covid-19, all groups are meeting virtually on the same evenings every week.

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.

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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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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Sara Asch

Bereavement Services Coordinator (Portland)

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Sara Asch

Bereavement Services Coordinator (Portland)

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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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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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 Relations & Events Specialist

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Emma Walker

Corporate Relations & Events Specialist

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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Chelsea Amaio

Grants and Communications Specialist

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Chelsea Amaio

Grants and Communications Specialist

Chelsea works on the Development Team as the Center for Grieving Children’s Grants and Communications Specialist helping to reach the Center’s foundation and targeted grant writing goals, and driving related marketing and communication strategies. Prior to joining the staff, Chelsea began her journey with the Center as a facilitator in the Intercultural Peer Support Program during the 2017-2018 school year where she became intimately familiar with the magic that happens at the Center.

Chelsea holds a bachelor’s in environmental studies and economics from University of New England here in Biddeford, Maine. She brings more than ten years of professional experience with eight years managing proposal development in both for-profit and grant-funded organizations.

In her spare time, Chelsea loves throwing herself into learning new things and has recently started growing an indoor vegetable garden.

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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 2019 as the Annual Giving Associate working alongside the Development team and the Director of Philanthropy. Patty 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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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.

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Jamie Schwellenbach

TLC Program Coordinator

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Jamie Schwellenbach

TLC Program Coordinator

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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Sara Reddick

Administrative Associate

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Sara Reddick

Administrative Associate

Sara is excited to be joining the Center staff as our new Frontline Coordinator. She has 12 years of experience working in non-profits with 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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Briana (B) Hailey

Bereavement Services Coordinator (Portland)

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Briana (B) Hailey

Bereavement Services Coordinator (Portland)

B shares responsibility for coordinating bereavement services which includes developing and maintaining relationships with our families and volunteers, meeting folks where they are at, and supporting all who come through the door, both physically and virtually.

B is a lifelong Mainer currently living in the greater Portland area. She comes to the Center with several years of experience working for Maine Medical Partners. She also recently completed a clinical internship at Maine Medical Center’s Emergency Department, where she provided caring support and urgent trauma-informed care to those experiencing significant medical crises. B holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with a certificate in Trauma-Informed Care from The University of New England.

Like many who find themselves back at the Center, B began her relationship with us as an intern in 2019, vowing to return as soon as the opportunity arose. “I am so excited to be back with The Center and all the love that happens here.”

She is passionate about social justice, equity, and inclusion. Her hobbies include local exploring, podcast-listening, and spending time with her cats Marshmallow and Binx.

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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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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 the following programs:

-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!

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Lyndsey Pfeiffenberger

Leadership Gift Specialist

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Lyndsey Pfeiffenberger

Leadership Gift Specialist

Lindsey joined the Center in October 2021 as the Leadership Gift Specialist. As part of the development team, Lindsey is responsible for managing and cultivating relationships with current donors while maintaining the Center’s donor database. Prior to coming on as a staff member, she volunteered on the Center’s Philanthropy and Events team. Most recently, Lindsey worked as a Development Associate at Through These Doors, where she was able to explore various areas of donor development. Lindsey lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband, Bobby, son, Jackson and dog, Hank. In her free time, Lindsey loves spinning, reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. On weekends, you can usually find her cheering on the sidelines at one of Jackson’s lacrosse games or sitting oceanside soaking in the sun.

Our
Board of Directors

  • President – Mark Pettingill
  • Vice President – Michael Wilson
  • Treasurer – Kevin Chase
  • Secretary – Robert Baldacci
  • Immediate Past President– Mary Larkin
  • At Large - Peter DeWitt
  • At Large - Doug Currier
  • Kathy D. Baker
  • Sandy Bagwell, M.D.
  • Matthew Brucker
  • Jenilee Bryant
  • Brian Cho
  • Maureen Clancy
  • John Holland
  • William Kany
  • Thomas Kelly
  • Lindsey Kerkela
  • Sara McLaughlin
  • Rob McPheeters
  • Francis Mesina
  • Diana Nelson
  • Jeannine Pendergast
  • Noah Petrucci
  • Jack Yao

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.