Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

HPH Hospice helps grieving kids smile in Hernando County

WEEKI WACHEE — At the corner of the table, in a chair apart from other children, 6-year-old Chloe Lieber sat gluing large plastic jewels and foam board sea creatures on a memory box around a picture of her deceased grandfather.

Chloe remembered how her grandfather, Steve, loved to watch the History Channel, but would change the TV to Cartoon Network for her. They sometimes went to the beach together to pick seashells for her grandmother.

"He was the bestest man I ever knew," she said.

Chloe was one of 19 children at an annual one-day camp that provides support to elementary-age children who have lost loved ones. The camp is sponsored by HPH Hospice, a nonprofit organization that provides palliative care in Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties. There is no cost for enrollment and the camp is open to anyone in the community.

Some activities, such as coloring and swimming, were just for fun. Others, including decorating memory boxes and sharing photos, were designed to help the children cope with grief.

One of these was an interactive group activity in which the campers were divided by different factors like gender or whether the death of their loved one was expected or sudden, such as from an accident or overdose.

Twelve of the children were grieving from sudden deaths.

This exercise, led by Children's Assistance Program (CAP) counselors, worked to show campers their similarities and that they are not alone.

"Children come to camps thinking no one is going through the same thing they are going through," hospice volunteer Paula Haydon ,65, said. "They are suffering in a very similar way and they start to open up."

For 13 years, Haydon has volunteered for HPH Hospice and said one memory from a camp several years ago sticks in her mind.

She watched as one child silently participated in the program for almost the whole day.

"By the end of the day he started smiling at everyone and talking. It took him all day to get there," Haydon said. "He didn't think anyone could understand. That felt like an accomplishment."

But the children are not the only ones who benefit from camp. This is 18-year-old Arie Matthew's first year volunteering there.

Last year, she was a camper.

When she was 8, Matthew's mother died of alcohol poisoning. For almost a decade, Matthew said she didn't have a way to cope with the grief.

"It's hard for me to listen to (the children) and what they are saying because I know what they're feeling," Matthew said. "They're so little."

While Matthew said that volunteering at the camp sessions brings up hurtful memories, she keeps returning for the support system. She looks forward to continuing to work for the hospice while studying music education at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Because of its nonprofit status, the hospice relies on volunteers and donations to continue its programing.

In 2011, volunteers in Hernando County alone worked more than 43,500 hours for the hospice. Every year, Glen Lakes Country Club donates its clubhouse and food for the Hernando-area children's camp.

HPH Hospice also organizes camps for teenagers and provides child and teen bereavement counseling.

"Children may not have a frame of reference for understanding, but they still feel all the feelings adult do," CAP counselor Nilda Sessler, 60, said. "They usually leave happier than when they got here."

While McKenna Snyder, 8, decorated her memory box with flowers and a large sun, she remembered her great-grandfather and uncle. McKenna also smiled and said she liked the camp.

"At first I was a little nervous. I didn't want to go," McKenna said. "It's actually fun!"

Laura Herrera can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6114.

 
Comments
Rain can’t stop hundreds of Lightning fans from watching Game 6

Rain can’t stop hundreds of Lightning fans from watching Game 6

TAMPA — If the Tampa Bay Lightning can overcome a 2-game deficit to the Washington Capitals and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final, then Deborah Schmeltzer can definitely drive across the Howard Frankland Bridge through a driving rainsto...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA — Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor City’s biggest new projects in years — a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 10 minutes ago
State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

VERO BEACH — All season, Admiral Farragut has focused on two things:Believe in each other.Commit to the process.Well, it all paid off in a big way Monday in the Class 3A state semifinals at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.Alyssa Rano hit a two-run ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Man recalls beating from Hernando deputies in federal excessive force trial

Man recalls beating from Hernando deputies in federal excessive force trial

TAMPA — The allegations at the core of Michael Bratt’s lawsuit against three Hernando County deputies have been repeated in court papers for eight years since his violent arrest.But on Monday, a federal jury in Tampa heard Bratt describe in his own w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High court sides with businesses over workers

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that businesses can prohibit their workers from banding together in disputes over pay and conditions in the workplace, a decision that affects an estimated 25 million non-unionized employees. With the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

LITHIA — Frank Rodriguez was still several hundred yards from his house Monday when he pulled his SUV to the side of the road and changed into a pair of beach shoes.Ahead of him, the way home along River Drive was submerged. He was spared a wade thro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG  — Christian Arroyo has watched more than 50 Rays games at Tropicana Field from the stands. Has been on the turf for his younger sister's gymnastics competitions and once, while it was in football configuration, to take grou...
Updated: 2 hours ago

FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

TAMPA — A Pasco County couple face dozens of charges after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they stole more than $480,000 from their elderly employer.Chet Alan Ragsdale, 45, was arrested Monday on 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
State softball: Academy at the Lakes romps in long-awaited semifinal

State softball: Academy at the Lakes romps in long-awaited semifinal

VERO BEACH — On a day when the weather at the state softball tournament finally said yes, Academy at the Lakes pitcher Alexis Kilfoyl said no to Lake Worth Christian.The hard-throwing right-hander fired a no-hitter in a Class 2A semifinal Monday morn...
Updated: 2 hours ago