When a child dies, parents struggle with profound grief. New Song Center for Grieving Children helps families pick up the pieces and move toward healing.
Katherine McKitrick knows that journey. She lost two babies shortly after birth — a year apart. New Song counselors and volunteers supported the Buckeye family during that difficult time and through the birth of a healthy child, who is now a preschooler.
“They were so compassionate and helped us process our feelings,” she says.
Zach Schulz of Scottsdale was just 4 when he lost his dad. He never expected to lose his brother, too.
But it happened when he was a freshman in high school. New Song’s grief support groups helped him overcome his fears, cope with pain and find hope again. Wanting to give back, he became a volunteer at 18. Now in his mid-20s, Zach is still working with the “Middles,” the 8-10 age group.
“I’ve really connected with so many kids over the years,” he says.
New Song is a Hospice of the Valley program that is open to anyone in our community who has experienced the death of a loved one. “It gives people a safe and supportive space to share their feelings and understand the sorrow they’re experiencing. Together, they learn it’s possible to live with joy again. And that is the magic of New Song,” Director Lisa Schmitt says.
In August, after more than a year of virtual programming, New Song is bringing back in-person support groups. Groups are held twice a month at six locations — in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Avondale. Services are available at no cost to families and all ages are welcome. Group sizes will be limited in capacity with CDC guidelines in place, and condensed virtual offerings will remain available for families who prefer online support.
In light of this much-anticipated return, New Song is seeking new volunteers (must be at least 16) and will provide training.
Volunteers like Zach say that helping families heal from the death of a loved one is one of the most rewarding things he’s ever done. His goal is to make sure kids know that losing someone close to them is never their fault, regardless of the circumstances.
“New Song is a great program. It really does help,” he says. “I think everyone gets something out of it — the families and also the volunteers.”
Volunteer training is four sessions: all day Saturday, Aug. 21 and 28; and in the evenings on Tuesday, Aug. 24, and Thursday, Aug. 26. The training will be held at Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix.
“If the mission of New Song touches your heart, please consider joining,” says Jill Lovill, New Song’s clinical director. “Bring your caring heart, open ears and playful spirit. We will teach you the rest!”
To enroll in a support group, register for volunteer training or obtain more information, call (480) 951-8985, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit newsongcenter.org.
Lin Sue Cooney is director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley. For information on program and services, call (602) 530-6900 or visit hov.org.