Meet the Children’s Bereavement Center

It’s hard to provide grief counseling with social distancing, but Executive Director Marian Sokol remains focused and optimistic.

For more than a year, the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) has worked to serve this area’s young people during a pandemic at a time when the demand for its services only intensified.

More children are starting to come back to the center in person, with a focus on those under the age of 8. So far, it’s been individual sessions only.

“We’re anticipating starting groups again … small peer support groups starting in June,” said Marian Sokol, executive director of the Children’s Bereavement Center, which has two other locations in addition to its San Antonio headquarters. “Most importantly, we are planning four camps between April and the end of the year. With camps we can bring children together several days at a time and work with them intensely.”

Founded in 1997, the Children’s Bereavement Center helps kids whose parents have passed away for a variety of reasons such as chronic illness or suicide. For these types of traumas, the center offers peer support, individual counseling, school-based groups, and camps for children of all ages.

Prior to the pandemic, the center itself was always busy, daily serving groups of 30 to 40 in the evenings for family sessions. Sokol hopes to start organizing smaller groups in June.

The center didn’t take as big of a financial hit as other nonprofits because its chief fundraiser took place before the pandemic started.

“We have been fortunate in that almost the majority of our donors have been extremely supportive,” Sokol said.

However, Sokol said the center is worried about funding in 2021. One of its three sites, in Floresville, is funded by the state, and they’ve already been told those funds will not be available this year. The center has a third location in Harlingen.

“I am optimistic,” Sokol said. “I know the commitment of the people who have supported the center in the past. They’ve walked besides us all through this journey.”

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