New Hope Celebrates 25 Years!

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New Hope is truly a gem of a program that Delaware Hospice offers free of charge to our youngest community members by supporting children and teens (ages 6-17) who are coping with a loss. Delaware Hospice family members, as well as youth referred by schools or community agencies, find help in individual and group settings or at Camp New Hope.

The capstone of New Hope is Camp New Hope which is a four day summer camp where children come together to talk about their loss, to remember special times, to meet new friends, and, most importantly, to have fun.

Most 17 year old girls look forward to their summer vacation to spend time with their friends at the beach or mall. Adrianna of Lake Forest is looking forward to those activities, but she is more excited about the four days she will spend at Camp New Hope as a camp volunteer.

Just before her 15th birthday, Adrianna lost her father to colon cancer. Her family came to Delaware Hospice and Adrianna was able to meet one-on-one with a New Hope Counselor. During those meetings, Adrianna was able to talk through the vast feelings she was experiencing and learn positive strategies to help cope.

The summer after Adrianna lost her father, she attended Camp New Hope. As a camper, Adrianna was able to see she “wasn’t alone, all the kids around me had experienced a loss and we each were able to share our memories.”

The next summer, Adrianna decided to attend camp as a camp volunteer. She wanted to go back to camp and help other children who had experienced a loss and to be a positive memory in their lives. “It just breaks your heart to see young children have to deal with such a loss.” As a volunteer, Adrianna was able to work through her own grief while helping others work through their own. She had the opportunity to share her loss and to encourage the campers that they will be okay.

The moment that made a lasting impact on Adrianna was when a young camper wanted to know if Adrianna knew how to paint toenails. Adrianna, said “yes” and wondered why this was such an important question to ask. After a few more questions, Adrianna understood that the little girl’s late mother was the one who always painted her toes. And she didn’t know how to paint toes. After talking to the girl’s father, Adrianna took the time and care to paint the young camper’s toes just like her mother used to. “The smile and delight she had on her face was a moment I will never forget,” said Adrianna. “A simple, small task of painting toes made that camper’s whole week and allowed her to realize that even though her mother is no longer here, it is okay to still do the things they used to do together, and think of it as a way to remember all the good times they had together.”

“Camp New Hope is truly a life changing experience for campers and staff alike,” commented Robin Murphy, BS, CT, New Hope Counselor. “Adrianna came to Camp New Hope and although her grief was very raw and painful she was able to connect with teens her age and recognize that she was not the only one who had experienced a loss. When Adrianna came back to volunteer, she was a force for healing to the young campers she was working with. Adrianna was able to support them in their grief; recognizing that she couldn’t take away their pain but instead graciously walked alongside them, listening to their stories of loss, playing and having fun with them, and sometimes just holding the silence with them  when no words were needed. Coming back to volunteer at Camp New Hope after having experienced a personal loss is truly a gift that comes out of one’s grief.”

Moments like that one and thousands more happen each and everyday at Camp New Hope. And that is why, Adrianna hopes to make volunteering at Camp New Hope an annual tradition. “For a few days, hundreds of children are able to forget their loss and to just be kids.”

As one of the most impactful programs offered by Delaware Hospice, New Hope is made possible through the community’s generous monetary support. If you would like more information or to donate to New Hope, please visit www.delawarehospice.org or call 1-800-DHI-GIVE.

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