The bells will ring at local grocery stores on April 27 as the Cameron Park Rotary Club and Snowline Hospice partner for a special one-day Link-Up event. designed to help Snowline raise awareness and funds for Healing All Together, the organization’s children’s grief processing group.
Shiva Frentzen, president-elect of the Cameron Park Rotary Club and president of Snowline’s Board of Directors, thought the partnership on Rotary’s Rotary at Work Day was a perfect way to support a program that few in the community are aware exists.
“Sue Watson, the bereavement coordinator at Snowline, made a presentation to Rotary,” said Frentzen. “Once I learned about the HAT program, I thought it was amazing. It touched me so deeply.”
HAT is a peer support program for children ages 5 to 18, helping them heal from the loss of a loved one while in a safe, accepting environment. Children, teens and adults are free to work through the grieving progress in their own way, using art, motion or play and the support of their peers who have suffered a similar loss. Over the past four years, 89 children and their families have been served by HAT.
“The bad feelings go out of my body and the good feelings come back in,” explained one young child.
Watson said HAT is not funded through Snowline Hospice as hospice is not necessarily involved. The program is a free service offered by Snowline. Each year, for six weeks in August and September, Snowline runs a Link-Up campaign at its thrift stores to fund HAT’s operating costs, which includes intense grief training for volunteers. The April event in conjunction with the Rotary Club will fund the purchase of specialized equipment for HAT.
“We’d also like to add a program for 3- to 5-year-olds who are grieving,” said Watson.
At one of seven local stores where the Cameron Park Rotarians will ring the bells to attract attention, community members can purchase a strip of colored paper for $1. “They can write a message for a grieving child on the paper,” said Frentzen, “and then the link is added to the chain on one of the Link-Up poles.”
“Last year, we took the links to our HAT children and made a big pile of them so they could read the messages,” said Watson, explaining that the messages from the community often make the grieving children feel less alone and help them to realize the community cares.
“Knowing those children are reading the messages of caring from the community is so important to me,” said Frentzen.
People may purchase a link without leaving a message and they are welcome to donate more than $1. Stores that are participating in the April 27 event are the Nugget and CVS in El Dorado Hills, CVS, Safeway, Bel-Air and Food 4 Less in Cameron Park and the Safeway in Placerville. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and about 50 Cameron Park Rotarians are expected to take shifts to ring the bells.
For more information about the Healing All Together program contact Sue Watson at (530) 621-7820.
HAT is also looking for adult volunteer facilitators for the peer support groups that meet every other Thursday evening, September through May. An information night is scheduled on Thursday, May 16, 6 to 7 p.m. at the Snowline Hospice Administrative Building located at 6520 Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs. The 17 hours of training will run Monday and Thursday evenings, June 3 through July 1.