Annual Appeal

We need your support more than ever. Please read the difference COJ has made in the community.


Just imagine losing a spouse ten days before Christmas as I did on December 14, 1993. My wife, Sue, our two boys and I were preparing for one of the best holidays we would ever have when she passed away from a short battle with leukemia. I was overly devastated, confused and miserable. How was I going make Christmas happen for my sons, Nick and Ben, who were not even teenagers yet?  Young children are not supposed to lose their mom.

I grew to learn that if children and teens suffering the loss of a mom, dad, sibling, or friend received grief support, it would help them through some of the most difficult times in their lives. I knew that being there for Nick and Ben, no matter what, was what they needed. They needed to know they were not alone.  As I learned and worked through my grief by attending an adult grief group and by sharing and walking my own grief journey I was better able to help my children. I grew in my passion to help others going through similar grief and now help facilitate adult and children’s groups.  COJ now has support groups to help widowers in this heart – rendering situation.

Scott Stewart, young widower,“I learned about Companions on a Journey soon after my wife, Summer, passed away. I found that the group helped me a lot in dealing with my grief, and giving me hope to go on with life. I decided to enroll my kids in COJ Mending Hearts group. It really helped my kids in dealing with their grief and expressing their emotions through crafts and kids projects. I've put my career on hold, to stay home and raise my two kids. I realized that I only get one chance in life to raise my kids. Now I find myself busier than when I was working. My kids get so excited and can’t wait to see Sheila and the others for group sessions.”

Sharing the importance of Child Grief Awareness:  Joshua’s lost his father, December 14, 2011and has been a member of the support group since Jan.  2012.Pictured is Joshua & Nick Dewitt, who have one thing in common most teenage boys their age don’t.  They both lost their fathers at a very young age.  Now they attend the Lakota East High School COJ Teens in Grief Ongoing Grief Support Group.

Joshua Niederman, “COJ’s Teens in Grief ongoing grief support group in the schools are needed everywhere.   Grief is not something that can be cured by doctors, medicine, but instead by talking about your feelings to people that can relate or know what you’re going through.  COJ’s groups are outlets for people to come and talk about how they feel or how they have been feeling.  It helps them get the advice on how to get through life after enduring a loss that will affect you for the rest of your life.”  

COJ’s Teen in Greif support groups are a significant pathway to help guide them during their grief.

“The power is in the structure and facilitation of the monthly meetings where affected students have a safe place to talk, to cry, to share common concerns and worries; to be themselves. As a school staff, we have become more sensitive and gentle, slow to jump to conclusions about why a student may be behaving in a certain way, and careful to ask questions before taking action. Responding in writing on an evaluation paper, one of a previous year's graduates said, ‘Companions on a Journey made it possible for me to face each school day’.”Blane Collison, Principle Archbishop Moeller High School 

cache_4092072926GIVE THE GIFT OF MENDING This holiday season and throughout the year, COJ will support students in grades K-12, in 21 different schools. We start at four years old and continue through high school in ourMending Hearts program for families. Providing an ongoing safe environment with activities and avenues to express “one’s self” helps students, children and families feel that they are not alone and are better equipped to deal with everyday life as they work through the added grief of their loss. We provide immediate crisis response and have been called in to schools not yet supported by Companions on a Journey, when the school community experiences a tragic death within its student body.

Our adult grief specific groups provide a safe environment for adults to share their grief. COJ’s work was featured nationally through Facing Life Head On, Season-7;“The Tragedy of Suicide,” in the Alive Marianist magazine article; “Holy Ground”,Mental Health America TV show Guide to Feeling Better and in the Enquirer follow-up feature story “No Rules to Grieving”.

Each year, COJ assists over 4000 children, teens and adults in our community through its many ongoing facilitated support groups for those who have suffered the loss of a mother, father, wife, husband, child, sister, brother or friend. COJ works to create balance for those mourning the loss of a loved one.

Your gift makes it possible to provide these services free of charge and will help us to continue to expand our service to help you and your family with your bereavement needs as well as to help the bereaved of our community. Every gift helps and every donation is greatly appreciated.


Tom Kanoza (Director & Nationally Trained Advanced Bereavement Facilitator)

{Don’t forget to check with your employer to see if they have a matching funds program.}

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