Who are we?
Helping Children Cope with a Loved One’s Cancer is offered by South Shore Hospital’s Friends of Hope, a volunteer coalition that supports South Shore Hospital’s cancer care programs. Recently, we have expanded our program to include families dealing with other stressors as well. We believe all children benefit from sharing feelings.
What is the program like?
Adults and children experience an imaginative journey with The Moon Balloon™ book together, using ideas inspired by the story to create images that tell stories and express feelings. All of this happens in story-hour fashion, with program leaders capturing the ideas by drawing symbols and images as they are described by the participants.
Later, the children have a drawing experience of their own. At the same time, the adults meet separately with a facilitator to learn more about using the book and our conversational method at home. Children then share their special drawings with the adults. The entire experience gives children and adults a lifelong tool for sharing feelings in ways they can all understand and feel comfortable with.
Adults receive a copy of The Moon Balloon book and additional materials and information to use at home. A month later, we connect with the adults to learn how the family is progressing with the book and method.
Who runs the sessions?
Our skilled facilitators are teachers, counselors, psychologists, and other professionals who are experienced in working with children and families. They have been trained specifically in The Moon Balloon process by Joan Drescher, author of The Moon Balloon book. The facilitators are registered volunteers of South Shore Hospital and donate their time to our program.
Who leads the program?
Julie Kembel, HCC Co-Leader
Julie has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education; and training and certifications in Health Education, Lifestyle Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Biofeedback. She is an author, publisher, public speaker, and lifestyle coach. Julie has initiated, implemented and managed innovative programs for children with physical disabilities and for adults with emotional disabilities. Julie moved to the South Shore in 2008. She joined the Friends of South Shore Hospital and is a Board Member of the Friends organization. Julie was instrumental in developing the program, Helping Children Cope with a Loved One’s Cancer.
Maureen O'Brien, HCC Co-Leader
Maureen is a developmental psychologist who has worked for several years each in hospital settings, corporate America, and in higher education. She is an author of parenting books and an entrepreneur who founded her own consulting business, Destination Parenting, in 2008. She is actively involved in Massachusetts-based, community agencies that support families -- in particular, Room to Grow and the Friends of Hope. Maureen is adept at public speaking, grant writing, program management, curriculum development, evaluation, and parent coaching. She has consulted with clients in the nonprofit sector and for-profit companies.
Allison Hoff, Executive Committee Member
Allie has a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and is a certified guidance counselor. She currently works in a Parochial school as a guidance counselor. Allie continues her education at Boston College where she is training to be a school administrator. Allie joined the Helping Children Cope program in its initial training, serving as a Facilitator and Executive Committee member. She is adept at public speaking, program development and implementation, educational resources, and working with children and families. She is passionate about helping children develop emotional resilience to deal with the stresses of school, family and social life.
Merle Ettin, Executive Committee Member
Merle brings different and uniquely helpful skills and perspectives to the Executive Committee. While she is passionate about the well being of children and families, Merle is more keenly focused on the funding aspects of program development and maintenance. Her goal is to see that the Helping Children Cope program develops the consistent financial resources to ensure the program’s stability. Merle’s strengths include community outreach, fund raising, and social networking for program promotion. Merle is a former citizen of South Africa where she provided language learning and educational materials for young children to the school system there.