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New nonprofit aims to help kids and teens suffering from loss

RISE Northwest offers non-clinical programs and mentoring opportunities for those who've lost a parent.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new nonprofit has come to Spokane to support grieving children and teens following the loss of a parent. The goal of the nonprofit is to provide non-clinical services and mentoring opportunities for children who have lost a parent. The nonprofit, RISE Northwest, is launching two programs in October.

The two programs are called Team Rise and Camp Cope.

Team Rise is an open-ended weekly program that connects grieving children and teens with peers and mentors. In this program, volunteer mentors engage in recreational and educational activities with the children, focusing on cultivating long lasting relationships. Some of the mentors in this program will be people who also have lost a parent to provide support and a sense of belonging.

Camp Cope is a 16-week program where students will meet with trained facilitators to talk about their healing process. This program will equip its students with language around how to talk about the emotions they are experiencing post-loss. Through the program, the nonprofit hopes it gives its students a sense of belonging focused on resiliency.

Alicia Hegie lost her husband to brain cancer when her child was only two years old.

“Over the last couple years with the pandemic he started to have a really tough time. He would describe feeling really lonely, none of his friends really got it. So I ended up finding RISE online as an opportunity for him to go and connect with other kids and was so impressed with the mission they were putting together,” said Hegie.

Valerie Shayman Southerland, the board president for RISE Northwest, said that a lot of work has gone into the programs they will be launching in Spokane. She said through her team’s research they discovered the loss of a parent can lead to negative childhood effects and create long lasting problems into adulthood. RISE Northwest will help to prevent that.

Southerland said, “We seek to change the trajectory of these children and really foster a sense of hope and resiliency in them. So they move forward.”

Southerland says the nonprofit will primarily serve children in the Spokane community under the age of 18. But anyone seeking support outside of Spokane will get the support they need.

The programs will take place at Summit and Saint Thomas Moore Church, with the hope to expand to other locations.

“I am thrilled, this is a year and a half in the making. I’ve been very motivated by our founder’s experiences. Losing their spouse, and what her children have undergone in their childhood,” said Southerland.

Enrollment is also underway for Team Rise and Camp Cope. The nonprofit is looking for families to enroll in the programs. Southerland says they will accept any child who has lost a parent to any incident. All services are completely free.

If you want to enroll or volunteer you can go to www.risenorthwest.org.


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