Local grief support centers receive thousands in grants to expand services

KENNEWICK, Wash — Multiple Tri-Cities organizations that help with grief care and support received thousands of dollars in grants to help expand their services.

The donations came from RDO Equipment and the Offutt Family Foundation who said they “have recognized youth suicide as a serious community issue that needs creative and innovative attention,” a news release said.

Cork’s Place received $20,000 dollars to “provide additional opportunities for grieving teens to share their grief in a safe, supportive environment.”

Brandy Hickey, the manager for Cork’s Place, said she felt like she was “on cloud nine.”

“I am always humbled and grateful for our generous community. It is never surprising to me when people are so kindhearted and open but when you bring kids into it and prevention and understanding youth mental health and the need for our services, it’s even more inspiring for me to keep going,” Hickey said.

Hickey said that the donation will go “a long way” when it comes to servicing grieving youth in the Tri-Cities.

“Right now we have a waiting list of over 50 kids wanting to get into support groups,” Hickey said, adding that the money will also go toward a possible physical expansion of the Cork’s Place building.

The Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition received $10,000 dollars “to purchase and prepare items for Survivor of Suicide Loss Care Kits. There will be two kinds of kits – one for adults who have lost a child to suicide and one for youth who have lost siblings or friends to suicide,” according to the release.

Kimberly Starr, a member of the YSPC and the mother of a son who died by suicide, said when she heard the news of the grant, she began “crying happy tears.”

“It just meant we’re going to be able to make a difference for parents like us,” Starr said.

Starr lost her son, Tom, six years ago. When he died, she said she knew she “wanted to make a difference.”

“In the months leading up until the day he died he really was this funny, intelligent, witty. service-oriented, caring young man,” Starr said. “We did not recognize the signs of his suicide and ideation.”

Starr said the grant money is especially important for suicide postvention awareness.

“We talk a lot about prevention in suicide and the signs you might look for, but postvention is really important,” Starr said. “A risk factor for suicide is having lost someone to suicide so when Tom died I experienced my own suicidal ideation which is not unusual but if you don’t know that then you could feel very lonely.”

Starr said the organization’s goal is to “bring comfort to and educate suicide loss survivors.”

The grant will also provide for training for teachers and others who are in contact with young people, the release said.