Multicultural Peer Support 2010 1
A. The Center for Grieving Children
Bill Hemmens established the Center for Grieving Children in 1987. After his 9 year old niece, Erin lost
her mother to cancer, Bill envisioned a loving community in which children and their families could
safely work through their grief.
Currently, the Center is operated by a governing board of 24 directors (see attachment A). A small staff of
5 FTE’s and 5 PTE’s that works with more than 175 Volunteers and Consultants who deliver program
services to more than 4,500 children, teens, and families annually. In the last year, our volunteers
provided more than 22,000 service hours supporting families. Beyond the immense service provided to
our local community, we also serve as a regional and national resource for communities looking to
establish or improve similar services.
The Center for Grieving Children has developed an accessible and available model program for working
with community members who seek support surrounding grief and loss. The Center offers a safe
environment for peer groups and trained facilitators to honor their resiliency and emotional intelligence
by sharing experiences and feelings. Through these interactions, individuals develop both strength and
companionship while working through their grief. This philosophy also represents the belief that young
children, who experience loss in early development, are more vulnerable to PTSD symptoms with future
losses. 1 The support offered include: Peer Support Bereavement, Tender Living Care (TLC) for families
facing serious or life threatening illness, Community Outreach and Education, and lastly the Multicultural
Peer Support Program working with the refugee and immigrant youth.
Over the last two decades the Center for Grieving Children has grown from being the third such center in
the country to one of the leading centers nationwide and the largest in Northern New England. The
Multicultural Peer Support Program (MCPS) was chosen as the winner of the 2004 Collaborative
Leadership Award, sponsored by the Institute for Civic Leadership, for its innovative partnerships with
Portland area schools in service to an emerging population.
Over the years, the Center has been the recipient of public and private funds from many agencies
including: Bank of America, Maine Community Foundation, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, United Way,
Francis Hollis Brain Trust, Eunice Frye Home, and JTG Foundation.
B. Multicultural Peer Support
A recent census showed that diversity in Maine represented about 3 % of the states total population. In
Portland, ME where the Center is located, the rates include African American, Hispanic and Native
American at around 10%. Over the past 20 years, approximately 5,000 refugees have been placed in the
Portland, ME community. 2 The Center’s convenient location provides a unique opportunity to offer
support to this small population of immigrant, relocated, and refugee children/families. In the last year,
13% of volunteer service hours conducted at the Center were focused on supporting children of different
Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Parentally Bereaved Children and Adolescents, Laura Stoppelbein, Journal of the American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, September 2000
Empowering Children through Art and Expression Culturally Sensitive Ways of Healing Trauma and Grief, Bruce St Thomas and Paul Johnson,
Multicultural Peer Support 2010 2
ethnic origins including foreign-born and second generation youth from countries as diverse as Somalia,
the Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries.
The purpose of this Multicultural Peer Support program is to provide a safe, culturally sensitive
environment for approximately 30-40 children from Riverton Elementary School, East End Community
School and Lincoln Middle School in Portland, Maine. During this 26-week program, facilitators and
clinicians, work with small groups of children, who share similar experiences, to explore their grief
associated with loss and trauma. This unique approach integrates an established peer support model with
art therapy that promotes resiliency by honoring the child’s traditional culture. This blended approach
helps the child learn to balance the needs of their old and new culture by building confidence and
fostering new relationships.
The Center is seeking partial funding to provide a more culturally enriched program for the children. We
believe the following enhancements will better support these children with their grief work: These
• Funding to allow us to not only work with Laura Val and the USM film students but will help us
create a DVD for each child to share with their families highlighting the work carried out here at
the Center and shared at community nights in partnership with local schools. The short films will
show how each child developed their story exploring their past, present and future in a way that
braids elements of their family and cultural traditions, incorporates their new homeland and in a
safe way explores their feelings of loss, current experience and through imagination connects
with their natural resilience.
• In addition to deepening the artistic elements of the Multicultural Peer Support program we
would look to host our second annual community event that brings together the children,
Center volunteers, parents and elders of the community in an event where excerpts of the work
conducted between October 2010 and May 2011. Last year our first night was a huge success
and we would like to expand this to a wider audience if possible.
• In addition to increasing the range of opportunities for self-expression and community building,
the funding will allow us to work with more children and their families as well as increase the
level of therapeutic support provided by Art Therapists and Clinicians and increased access to
Major Activity Timeline Responsibility
Begin planning for school year Aug/Sept 2010 Project Coordinator
Make connection with local schools Aug/Sept 2010 Project Coordinator
Indentify children who will Aug/Sept 2010 Project Coordinator
Review intake reports on children Aug/Sept 2010 Project Coordinator
Recruit and train volunteers and Sept/Oct 2010 Program Director
interns as facilitators
Recruit and train volunteers and Sept/Oct 2010 Project Coordinator and staff
interns for MCPS Program
Staff planning session (review year) Sept/Oct 2010 Project Coordinator
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Begin 26 week Multicultural Oct. 2010 through Project Coordinator
Program May 2011
Host workshops and trainings by Dec. 2010/11 Project Coordinator
visiting artists such as Oscar
Mokeme, curator of The African
Tribal Art Museum, and the theatre
troupe, Playback Theatre and USM
Media Studies Film Crew
Review workshop for effectiveness Dec. 2010 Project Coordinator
and receptivity. /Jan. 2011
Integrate art therapy programs such Ongoing Feb. Projector Coordinator
as theatre vignettes, exploring through April
traditional culture through masks, 2011
storytelling, dance, drama,
Movement and music (drumming),
and bring in local artists (i.e. Sara
Begin planning the components of Ongoing Feb. Project Coordinator
the community arts event. through April
Year- end celebration involving May 2011 Project Coordinator
showcasing the work completed in
the MCPS art program in 2008/2009.
Review past 2008/2009 program for May 2011 Project Coordinator
successes and improvements.
The Multicultural Program is supported by many public and private organizations including:
• Maine Community Foundation
• Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust
• Eunice Frye Home
• Francis Hollis Brain Trust
• United Way of greater Portland
Budget and Fundraising Strategy
The Center for Grieving Children is seeking $25,000.00 in support to supplement and augment the
existing Multicultural Peer Support Program (MCPS).
Established in 1997, the Multicultural Peer Support Program has grown into a solid and sustainable
offering, which has routinely received support from both local and regional foundations. The Institute for
Civic Leadership honored the MCPS program with a Collaborative Leadership Award for its innovative
partnerships with the Portland area schools by addressing the needs of the emerging diverse population.
The focus of our request is to:
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• Provide the opportunity for children to participate in the MCPS program.
• To support the increased participation by increasing the assistance from Art Therapists and
Clinicians and interpreters.
• Incorporate workshops and trainings by visiting artists such as Oscar Mokeme, the curator of The
African Tribal Art Museum, and the theatre troupe, Playback Theater and to develop short films
in concert with the USM Media Studies Service learning film project.
• Explore and create art work, theatre vignettes which explore traditional culture through the use of
masks, storytelling, and dance/drama/movement and music (drumming) over the 26 week period
from October through May).
• Conduct the third annual ‘bridge to the community event’ bringing together the children, their
families, volunteers, and community leaders in a celebration and performance reflecting the
artwork crafted throughout the 26-week program.
The $25,000.00 request represents 26% of the overall budget for the program and would be broken down
• $7,500.00 for increased access to art therapists and consultants and interpreters
• $5,000.00 for hosting visiting artists
• $7,500.00 for materials
• $5,000.00 to support the Bridge to the Community Event.
MCPS Program Expenditures Amount
Consultants/Contracted Services 15,000
Rent and Utilities 2,500
Equipment Purchase 5,000
Other: Transportation for participants 7,500
Bridge to the Community Event 2,500
Cultural Competence Training for Agency Volunteers 7500
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UWGP Diversity Fund Grant (Pending) 7,500
Cohen Foundation (Pending) 15,000
Foundations and Corporations (Project)
Individuals (membership, donations, etc.) From agency
Government Revenue (List Agency)
The MCPS program begins in September of 2010 and runs through May 2011. The Center relies on
private support by corporations, foundations, and individuals. A majority of our revenue comes from
special fundraising events. The following chart illustrates the source of revenue:
The Multicultural Program is supported by many public and private organizations. Currently, we have
contributions totaling $25,000 from the following organizations:
• Maine Community Foundation
• Margaret Burnham Charitable Foundation
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• Eunice Frye Home
• Francis Hollis Brain Trust
We also have $22,500 in pending contributions from the following organizations with the remaining
balance coming from our operating budget:
• United Way (Pending)
• Sam L. Cohen Foundation (Pending)
Projected Timeline of Funds
09/10 10/10 11/10 12/10 01/11 02/11 03/11 04/11 05/11 Total
10,555 10,555 10,555 10,555 10,555 10,555 10,555 10,555 10,560 95000
C. Outcome and Sustainability
The Multicultural Peer Support program is the only program of its kind in Portland, Maine designed to
support diverse children and their families through the grieving process within the actual school day. In
addition to providing important support, the MCPS program makes transportation and scheduling more
In order for the Center to gain better understanding of the effectiveness of the MCPS program, the Center
annually distributes a survey to school staff, teachers, and teaching aides for the purpose of assessing the
student’s progress within our program. Progress is measured through the child’s self-expression,
language acquisition, academic progress, focus and appropriate personal and social behavior as well as
attendance. In the past, this survey process has provided essential feedback on the child’s progress and
has allowed for important program evaluation and restructuring.
In addition to receiving feedback through surveys, classroom observations by the teachers play a vital role
in collaborating with the Center in determining the effectiveness of the program. Success is viewed
through some of the following qualities:
• When a child displays noticeable stronger social connections.
• When a child expresses emotion in a healthy and safe manner thus reducing the amount of anger.
• The child demonstrates a better ability to concentrate in the classroom.
• As a child progresses through school, they also continue their participation within the program.
As an organization, the Center continually assesses progress toward their goals and outcomes. Overall
progress is determined through informal assessments by the facilitators, Art Therapists, and Clinicians
within the Multicultural Peer Support program. Successful assessments are determined in the following
• How children are progressing in their openness to share feelings
• How connected the children are to the program, volunteers, and the different activities.
• The child’s willingness to share stories.
• The child’s ability to show empathy and how they are engaging within the activities.
Another critical step in assessing the Center’s progress occurs through the facilitator check in and check
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out process during the night of service. This time not only allows the facilitator to offer feedback on the
process but also allows the staff to ensure that the facilitators are coping with the stress that naturally
accompanies this line of work. At the organizational level, the Center employs a tracking system for
monitoring family intakes, phone support, and periodically checking in with the families.
At the close of the school year and MCPS program, the program directors solicit feedback from
facilitators, college interns, and the teachers at the elementary school to evaluate the events and programs
offered in the past year. During this evaluation process, changes or enhancements to the curriculum will
be determined. The Center understands the importance of program evaluation in determining the future
curriculum however; the staff also leaves room for flexibility as to remain sensitive to the ever changing
needs of the children.
Facilitator trainings are an important element to the evaluation process. The Center surveys the
facilitators to identify the need for additional training as well as topics to be covered during the
mandatory in-service training. Each fall, the volunteer staff is required to attend a Closed for Inventory
Session, which allows the facilitators to process their own grief and deepen their connection with their
peers. The information gathered through this assessment and training process is also reviewed at an
Although there is not a formal knowledge sharing process, the Center engages in many opportunities to
help others. Training Institutes for Multicultural Peer Support is offered in both the spring and the fall.
These institutes are facilitated by trained consultants Bruce St. Thomas and Paul Johnson who have co
authored the book Empowering Children through Art and Expression, Culturally Sensitive Ways of
Healing Trauma and Grief. In the past year, Executive Director, Anne Lynch spoke on behalf of the
Center at the National Symposium in Long Beach, California as part of the National Alliance for Grieving
Children Symposium and workshops. Lastly, the Center has been able to share their experience and
knowledge to various foundations and agencies in the past years.
For the past 23 years, Center for Grieving Children has grown into a highly respected community partner
by supporting those grieving a loss. The Center provides connection between clients, volunteers, and
volunteers in leadership roles with respect to ethnic, religious, cultural, and economic diversity. The
Center seeks cooperation from foundations, private agencies, and individual contributions in order to
provide these significant community programs. The Center also organizes many fundraising events
throughout the year including a Silent Auction, Pet and People Walk, Swing Fore the Center Golf
Tournament, and lastly the third annual team training for the 2010 Maine Marathon. Through the
generous support of many, the Center is able to continue its mission of reaching those in need.
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Attachment B - Curriculum Vitae for Key Personnel
Anne Lynch, BA H. Dip is the Executive Director at CGC and has more than ten years
experience in grief and loss support, outreach, crisis intervention, and work with culturally
diverse populations. Anne graduated with a BA in Business and has a postgraduate diploma in
Education and has over 15 years teaching experience in Ireland and the U.S.
Susan Giambalvo, MSW, LCSW is the Program Director at The Center for Grieving Children. She has
over 13 years progressive experience working with children, youth and families in a variety of social
service and mental health settings. In addition to direct care work, Susan has worked with volunteers
and managed all aspects of programming including development and implementation.
Patricia Ellen, MA, CRS, MSC is the Outreach Director at The Center for Grieving in Children. Her
primary responsibilities are for the Community Outreach and Education. In addition to her work at The
Center, Patricia is an experienced Rubenfeld Synergist (body mind psychotherapy) and an Ordained
Interfaith Minister. She also has 25 years experience in designing and leading group trainings.
Dr. Bruce St. Thomas, Ed.D., A.T.R., L.C.P.C., L.M.F.T. is a therapist / consultant /educator
with extensive work within educational and community organizations. He specializes in
facilitating human grief and development through imagination using myths, metaphor and art to
gain self / group awareness. He has taken a highly evolved theory of human creativity being at
the Center of our ability to resolve and ultimately heal inner and outer conflict. His decision-
making model appeals to both multicultural and multi-generational issues.
Marie B. Sheffield, Art Therapist, L.C.P.C. is an art therapist/counselor who works in conjunction
with Transitions Counseling Inc. Through her work experience; Marie has skillfulness in the areas of
children, adults, families and groups. She specializes in children in crisis, trauma, and grief and loss
related to permanent and temporary separation from biological families. Marie is a firm believer that
healing happens in community and in relationship. Marie has been a consultant for the Center’s
Multicultural Program for the past two years.