The Griefbusters program is a unique, completely free support program for grieving children that has been serving our community’s youth for 33 years. Our volunteer team is led by Colleen M. Brazil, MSW, and Tammy Beilstein, our Griefbusters program coordinator. The Griefbuster team is comprised of highly vetted and trained volunteers who work with children ages 5-19 who need help coping with and recovering from traumatic personal losses caused by the death of someone close to them. The Griefbusters program also provides crisis management in both counties in emergent events such as car accidents or other sudden deaths.
Many children have difficulty putting their feelings about grief into words, which results in a child’s behavior “speaking” for him or her. Poor school work, defiance, short tempers, fights, sudden delinquency, eating disorders, promiscuity, drinking or drug use may all be signs of unresolved grief. Griefbusters volunteers listen and give support; they are not therapists. Conversations are private and confidential, and again, services are provided without charge.
The Griefbusters Program collaborates with each school district within Calaveras and Amador Counties by providing training, outreach, referrals, in-service meetings and ongoing communications. We provide training to the peer-mentor students activities at Calaveras High School and we collaborate with public health services through referrals and education. Additionally, HOAC partners with the Calaveras County & Amador County Departments of Probation, Sheriff’s Offices, Child Protective Services, and Behavioral Health as well as Live On, clinicians, and counselors when needed.
Griefbuster sessions for students typically take place once per week, for an average of six weeks, but students may continue as long as they wish and return as needed. Meetings are held in a private, one-on- one setting at the child’s school to ease the transportation burden.
Anyone can refer a student to Griefbusters, but the majority of our referrals come from a school staff member. Referrals also come from a parent/guardian, probation dept., counselor, hospice staff, etc. Once paperwork, including a “Consent and Authorization for Release of
Information” form, is completed and turned in, a Griefbuster volunteer is matched with the student. Often, matches happen quickly. In some cases, more time is needed to properly match a student with a Griefbusters volunteer.
The Hospice of Amador & Calaveras Griefbusters program is solely funded through grants. Over the years we have been awarded grants from Dignity Health, Sutter Health, Calaveras Community Foundation and American River Bank, to name a few.
Age appropriate materials are provided to children during their Griefbusters sessions. Our resource library of books, videos, games and other tools designed to help children process their grief in a healthy and productive way is available to our community as needed.
For more information on our Griefbusters program, please call Tammy Beilstein at 209-223-5500.
To download a brochure, please click here.