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Thousands of luminaries to shine light on children’s grief during Highmark Caring Place event at Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 6, 2015) — Thousands of luminaries, decorated with messages of remembrance and encouragement for those who have lost a loved one, will light the path to a large butterfly formation in a special event Nov. 18 at Allegheny Health Network’s Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion. Illuminating HOPE, hosted by the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, marks the eve of the annual Children's Grief Awareness Day observance.

Open to the public, Illuminating HOPE will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m., with luminaries to be lit in the Wexford Pavilion’s outside courtyard at 7 p.m. The event will feature free activities including an art show, face painting, luminary creation, music by the Golden Strolling Strings and refreshments.

"Illuminating HOPE is an opportunity for the community to come together to let grieving children know that they are not forgotten," said Caring Place Director Terese Vorsheck. "Children’s Grief Awareness Day is a time to show children who have experienced the loss of a close family member that they are not alone and that the community supports them through their healing."

Caring Place families and volunteers, Highmark and Allegheny Health Network employees and hospital visitors and students and teachers from several local schools customized each of the luminaries by decorating paper bags with personal writings and drawings. Together, they aim to light more than 5,000 luminaries so that grieving children will see that they are not alone.

"Since opening a little more than a year ago, the Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion has not only provided a new kind of healthcare experience, but it has also served as a community resource to help support and raise awareness of the many great, nonprofit, social service organizations in our community," said Jeffrey Carlson, President of the Health + Wellness Pavilion.

Event attendees are also invited to create a luminary to include in the HOPE butterfly by writing their own thoughts and memories of a loved one or a message of support to children who are grieving the loss of someone near to them.

"Remembering helps us to know that people we love, even though we don’t see them now, live on in our hearts," said Vorsheck. "We encourage the community to participate by sharing those memories with others experiencing grief. Illuminating HOPE is the perfect opportunity to do that."

Started by the Highmark Caring Place in 2008, Children’s Grief Awareness Day is observed annually to raise awareness for the needs of grieving children. Since its inception, it has grown to become a national and international event that is observed on the third Thursday in November each year.


David Misner
Highmark Health