On Saturday, July 8th, four young children received a special gift from a very generous man. Tony Gentry is a grandfather of three in Florida. After hearing about the violence in Chicago, he decided to create “Grandpa’s Joy Ride,” riding his bike from Orlando, FL to Chicago, IL to gift four children with a bike, with the help of Little Company of Mary Hospital’s (LCMH) Heart Connection Program. Heart Connection is a grief support group that gives support to grieving children who have lost a parent to violence. Heart Connection is a safe, accepting and nurturing environment where each child can grieve in his or her own way.
After learning about Little Company of Mary’s award winning bereavement services, Gentry selected LCMH as the recipient. Heart Connection staff is committed to supporting families, schools and the community in caring for grieving children. Little Company offers this unique program that encourages children to honor and express their feelings of loss. Through creative activities and the companionship of other children in similar circumstances, they find the necessary guidance and support necessary for their healing.
“I just wanted to bring joy to children in need during a difficult time,” Gentry said. “I hope that this small gesture will bring a new light to these children’s lives.’
The children, all of whom are part of LCMH Heart Connection support group, are Fatima Ortiz (4), Rayshawn Pryor (5), who both lost their fathers, and sisters Daija Rogers (8) and Destiny Rogers (9) who lost their mother. They all have suffered a tragic loss and came to the LCMH Heart Connection support group for grief support.
“Each child was so happy to receive such a wonderful gift that helps the kids continue to be kids. It’s nice to bring a ray of sunshine to their lives after such a tragic life changing event,” said Arlene Dulski, MS, MA, LPC,CCTP, the Pastoral Care Bereavement Coordinator at LCMH.
The Heart Connection meets weekly for eight sessions from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The first session is a family orientation to the program. After that, the children gather weekly in age-specific support groups. Additional Bereavement Support Groups offered at LCMH include: Living When a Loved One Has Died, Programs for Spanish Speaking Families, The Barr Harris Children’s Grief Support Center, Cherished Angel Memory Garden, The Compassionate Friends, Coping with the Holidays, and Maternal Child Loss.
For further information about these programs offered at Little Company of Mary Hospital, visit www.LCMH.org or call the Pastoral Care Department at 708.229.5484.