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Dear Uplift Community, 
 
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, and, on behalf of the Uplift Team, I say THANK YOU to the remarkable volunteers who help Uplift’s grief support programs thrive.  
 
From the time Uplift was founded 20 years ago, volunteers have been vital to our ability to provide caring grief support services to children and families. From the days when we had two employees to the present with 18 team members, our volunteers assist peer support grief groups and allow more children to receive services. In today’s virtual groups, volunteers continue to show up every day on Zoom, offering a smiling and caring onscreen presence that lets grieving children know they’re in a safe, welcoming space where they can share their emotions. Our Board of Directors generously give their time and expertise to ensure Uplift is fulfilling its mission and operating to the best of its abilities, and the Young Professionals Board works tirelessly to share Uplift’s work with new audiences and connect them to the mission. I thank each volunteer for giving of yourself to support Uplift and to ensure no child grieves alone. 
 
I’m pleased to introduce a new, semi-regular feature in this month’s Uplift Update, a personal essay penned by an Uplift staff member. Samantha Anthony, MS, is one of Uplift’s newest team members, and joined the staff full-time in January. Samantha is not new to the organization and has been an Uplift intern since 2019 and a part-time employee in 2020. A graduate of Chestnut Hill College with a BS in Human Services and an MS in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Samantha was a classroom assistant in the School District of Philadelphia and a pre-school teacher prior to working at Uplift. She says the lessons she learned while working with different youth populations while at Uplift have served to fuel her passion for social justice. Samantha’s essay is a look into this past year’s challenges from the perspective of a clinician who has been doing the work, day in and day out.  
 
Thank you for continuing to engage with the Uplift Update and for staying up to date on all our activities. Thank you for your support, which helps make our work possible.  
 
With best wishes, 

Darcy Walker Krause
Executive Director

 
Uplift and the Philly HopeLine Highlighted by WHYY
On April 15, Uplift Executive Director Darcy Walker Krause was interviewed for WHYY as part of a story about how gun violence affects not only families of victims, but also their friends, classmates, teammates, and religious communities. In the interview, Darcy stated that giving young people the tools to address their feelings can make the grieving process easier, and highlighted the Philly HopeLine, Uplift's free helpline in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, as one resource.

Read the full article on WHYY's website.
 
Uplift Marks Children's Mental Health Awareness at Press Conference with the Philadelphia School District
On Thursday, May 6th, Darcy Walker Krause will be part of a press briefing with Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of launching the Philly HopeLine. Held one day before National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, the briefing will highlight the achievements of the Philly HopeLine and highlight the ways Uplift and the School District collaborate to support the emotional well-being of Philadelphia's students.

Follow Uplift on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for a link to watch a recording of the press briefing.
 
WPSU Documentary Speaking Grief Available On Demand
Produced by WPSU with support from the New York Life Foundation, Speaking Grief is a public media initiative that seeks to create a more grief-aware society by validating the experience of grievers and guiding those who wish to support them. Uplift's Clinical Director, Kevin Carter, MSW, LCSW, served on the content advisory board for the documentary.

Watch the full documentary on demand or view resources for grief support and education by visiting the Speaking Grief website.
 
Clinician Director Kevin Carter Honored by Philadelphia Coalition for Victim’s Advocacy
Uplift’s Clinical Director, Kevin Carter, MSW, LCSW, has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Mental Health Services Award from the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA). PCVA is a membership coalition of organizations and individuals that provide direct services, advocacy, and assistance to victims, co-victims, and witnesses of crime in Philadelphia. This well-deserved award is another instance of how Kevin’s knowledge, dedication, and advocacy has brought him recognition as an esteemed professional in Victim Services.  
 
Personal Essay: Samantha Anthony
On March 13th, 2020, The Philadelphia School District made the decision to temporarily close all schools within its district. That same week, Uplift Center for Grieving Children made the decision to temporarily suspend in person operations. Both of these acts were in direct response to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I used the word temporary, because I think when things first began to shut down, many of us thought it would be temporary. I think many of us believed that mother nature was requesting a short pause of us. She wasn’t. She was demanding we do a complete stop and reevaluate. 

The world kept spinning, and things kept happening, but we no longer had the same access to the world that we once did. As a result, Uplift discovered that success in this new world demanded we stop and reevaluate. Perhaps it was because the world had both stopped and somehow still kept spinning, but the things that kept happening, felt like they really kept happening.  

COVID-19 cases increased by the week, as did COVID-19 related deaths. By the end of 2020 there were 499 homicides, 150 more than 2019 (Philadelphia Police Department, 2021). The killing of Walter Wallace Jr  happened.   

The name Walter Wallace Jr stands among names like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These and many other names progressively, and in no particular order, fueled a rage in the United States that was bound to explode. It exploded in May 2020. And as all these things continued to happen, Philadelphia, specifically its children and youth, continued to grieve.  

Before 2020 demanded a complete stop and reevaluate of Uplift Center for Grieving Children, we were able to reach the students and families that were grieving through in person school grief groups. We were able to reach them through in person family groups at our site and partner sites. Physically reaching them no longer a possibility, we shifted to virtually reaching them. 

Doing grief work virtually came with challenges. Some of those challenges were, identifying HIPAA compliant cost and ease accessible virtual platforms to conduct grief groups, identifying students that had had a death that was impacting them, and fostering safety and security in virtual settings.  

When you’re in a room with students, you can feel the room. You can see connection in the head nods, see pain in the tears, see nervousness in the twitching knees and tapping fingers. But when the camera is off, all you have to go on is what you hear. And when the mic is off, well then, how do you get the students to trust the space enough that they can engage in the work in a way that is meaningful for them. 

I had a professor that used to say “if you build it, they will come”. I’d like to think that 2020 invited us at Uplift to reexamine our system of service provision, dismantle it where other systems had influenced that system with bias, and rebuild it to better reflect who we serve and their needs. I’d like to think that 2021 finds us now in an era of change. We are (re)building it (Uplift) from the inside out, so that when they (students and families) come, what they will find is a space that is safe, a space that is for them, a space that has considered who they are in all they are and has done it’s best to reflect that. Whether that space be virtual or in person, we hope that Uplift will be a “for Philly” space. 
 
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The Center for Grieving Children
3300 Henry Ave
Suite 102
Philadelphia, PA 19129