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June 9, 2013

Helping children heal: Woman supports grieving kids

— After Susan Glass retired as principal at All Saints Catholic School in June 2012, she felt as if something was missing in her life.

“I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the community,” the Ebensburg resident said.

Glass’ daughter, a home health case manager with Home Nursing Agency, told her mother about her experience volunteering with a children’s grief center in State College and suggested learning more about the agency’s Healing Patch, which is a program of loss and hope for grieving children and their families.

“She knows I love to work with kids and that I wanted to give back,” Glass said. “At first I was thinking it would be depressing and that I wouldn’t be able to help because I would be sad, but it isn’t like that at all.”

Glass said her job is just to be there and listen to the children.

“I give comfort and let the kids express their emotions about losing their loved ones,” she said.

And although she knows her presence is appreciated by families, Glass has personally experienced the benefits of being a volunteer.

“I think I get more out of it than the kids do,” she said. “It’s so heartwarming to see the newer kids become comfortable and begin to open up. People think when there’s a death that kids just get over it, but they don’t. This is a way for the whole family to heal.”

For her volunteer efforts, Glass is Person of the Week.

Allison Stockley, manager of the Healing Patch, said Glass is a kind-hearted, nurturing woman with a youthful spirited heart.

“As a retired teacher and principal, Sue’s years and experience of working with children are true assets for the Healing Patch volunteer program,” she said. “Facilitating various activities and group discussions with children, Sue frequently goes above and beyond to assure the children’s experience is meaningful.”

Stockley said Glass recently returned from a trip to Italy and brought back boxes of candy for fellow volunteers and gave a box to a child within the group who shared a connection to Italy with his recently deceased father.

“That was a simple gesture that meant the world to a young child,” she said.

As a way for the community to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the agency’s hospice and Healing Patch programs, an open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. June 19 at the Cambria Healing Patch, 118 Ebony Road, Ebensburg.

“Everyone from all walks of life can contribute,” Glass said. “You don’t have to be a teacher or have a special degree. You just have to want to help people.”

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