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Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder to serve as spokesperson for grieving children

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Contact: Sara Wurfel
Office: 517-335-6397

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder will serve as a statewide spokesperson for grieving children in Michigan.  First Lady Snyder joined Ele's Place, a healing center for grieving children in Lansing and Ann Arbor, today in announcing her new role to help raise awareness of the needs of grieving children and the launch of a website designed to provide assistance to families through the state seeking information on how to support grieving children.

"I am honored to be part of a statewide public awareness campaign for grieving children throughout Michigan," Mrs. Snyder said.  "It is devastating when children lose a parent or sibling, and they need compassionate support programs.  I've seen how Ele's Place provides children the opportunity to share their grief with others their age, helping them cope and begin to heal.  Ele's Place makes a profound difference in the lives of grieving children."

For 20 years in Lansing and four years in Ann Arbor, Ele's Place has been providing grief support programs, at no cost, to children and families who have experienced the death or life-threatening illness of a loved one.  In addition, Ele's Place serves as a resource and referral agency, providing guidance for newly bereaved families, professional referrals, information and trainings for people who come in contact with grieving families.  All services are provided at no charge.

"We are proud that Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder will be a spokesperson for Michigan's grieving children, spreading the message that grieving children need support and there are programs to help them," said Laurie Baumer, president and CEO of Ele's Place.  "Children who do not resolve the difficult issues around grief and loss are at risk to themselves and to society, now or as adults.  Unresolved childhood loss is often linked with depression, violence, truancy, school failure, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies.  By supporting grieving children who are at risk of developing these complications and providing them with life coping skills, the potential social, emotional and health problems associated with unresolved grief can be minimized."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in 20 children under the age of 18 will experience the death of a parent.  In Michigan, that statistic represents more than 117,000 children grieving a parent's death, while thousands more grieve the death of a sibling or other loved one.  Surveys conducted by Ele's Place indicate that significant numbers of grieving children exist in every community and need support systems that can help them cope, begin to heal and prevent or stop behavioral problems. To help fill gaps in support services across the State, Ele's Place has created the Michigan Network for Grieving Children (MNGC).

"Our ultimate goal is for every grieving child in Michigan to have access to compassionate support," Baumer said.  "There is a critical lack of support services and resources available to grieving children throughout the State.  As a nonprofit entity receiving no tax dollars, the Michigan Network for Grieving Children will provide existing programs for grieving children in Michigan with a stronger conduit for information-sharing and an opportunity for joint promotional support throughout the state. Together, we can leverage a unified, statewide awareness campaign so that current programs can do more than they could ever do alone, and new programs can get off the ground."

"The Michigan Network for Grieving Children will help us reach grieving children wherever they live in the state," said Mrs. Snyder.  "I look forward to being part of the effort to educate people about the need to support grieving children and to direct families and others to resources through a new website,  I see my role as an opportunity to raise awareness on this important issue as we work together to make a difference in the lives of Michigan's children." 

The Michigan Network for Grieving Children is operated by Ele's Place, Inc. under its 501(c)3 status.  The first phase of operation will include developing a website containing resources to help grieving children and a database of support services that exist across Michigan, as well as a statewide awareness campaign featuring Mrs. Snyder as spokesperson.

Ele's Place was established in 1991 and is named in honor of Ele Stover, who died in 1989 at the age of 11 months. Ele is survived by four siblings whose lives will be forever affected by her life, illness and death. Ele's Place currently supports more than 200 grieving children each week at its Lansing location and more than 100 each year through its off-site programming in seven schools.  Ele's Place currently supports more than 100 grieving children each week at its Ann Arbor location, established in 2007.

For information about how to help a grieving child or to locate children's grief support programs, please visit


EDITORS NOTE: For information about the Michigan Network for Grieving Children, contact Laurie Strauss Baumer, president and CEO of Ele's Place at 517-482-1315 or