Removing the stigma of their loss

Nikki Gregory (center) and her three daughters meet at Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.
Nikki Gregory (center) and her three daughters meet at Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.

HONOLULU — For Nikki Gregory, the hard truth was that staying with the father of her three daughters was not going to make their relationship any better.

The 34-year-old single mother admitted that it took her a long time, but she finally did realize that prison was his life.

She just needed help getting across to her girls – Champagne, age 10, Chardonnay, age 13, and Alize, age 15 – that it was not their fault their father has been in and out of prison his whole life.

“I wanted them to know that there are other kids like them,” Gregory said. “They’re not alone. That it was unfortunate we’re in the situation that we are in, but it’s not their fault. And it’s OK that their parents are not together. Kids Hurt Too Hawaii helped them become more open about their situation. They are not ashamed to say that their father is in prison.”

Gregory’s three daughters are among the more than 250 grief-stricken children, between ages 3 and 19, that every year in Hawaii turn to Kids Hurt Too Hawaii for a safe space to express feelings about their loss of a parent to such factors as incarceration, death or divorce.

Raising funds for worthy cause

Grief-stricken children participate in a mentoring activity at Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.
Grief-stricken children participate in a mentoring activity at Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.

HONOLULU — Kids Hurt Too Hawaii has embarked on a campaign to raise $200,000 for a worthy cause.

Proceeds go towards providing 250 grief-stricken children with a safe space to express feelings about their loss of a parent to such factors as a divorce, death or incarceration.

It costs Kids Hurt Too Hawaii $900 per child annually to serve the 250 children, between ages 3 and 19, who turn to the nonprofit organization for help with their grief over the loss of a parent.

That comes out to about $75 per month for free services that include up to 17 hours of counseling; at least two outings intended to lift spirits and boost self esteem; as well as healthy meals and snacks.

“Our hope is to appeal to donors who believe in what our organization represents, and who feel that our organization is worthy of their hard-earned money on an ongoing basis,” said Cynthia White, executive director of Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.

Seeking donors and volunteers

Hiro Ito working with children
Dedicated volunteers and donors are critical to Kids Hurt Too Hawaii's existence.
HONOLULU — As Kids Hurt Too Hawaii turns its attention to providing grief-stricken children with a safe space to express their feelings, the non-profit organization continues to seek dedicated donors and volunteers.

The renewed push comes at a time when the nonprofit organization is focused on addressing its two biggest challenges: engaging volunteers and raising funds.

Both are critical to its efforts to continue transforming grief-stricken children’s pain into newfound acceptance and self-esteem.

“A high priority for us is to attract volunteers who are enthusiastic about our organization’s mission and demonstrate their excitement by willingly devoting time and energy toward helping our organization reach its goals,” said Cynthia White, executive director of Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.

For more information, call (808) 256-3176.

Drawing strength from peers

Cynthia White sits in on peer-support group meeting for kids who have lost a parent.

HONOLULU — For a glimpse of the effect of Kids Hurt Too Hawaii on grief-stricken children, look no further than a peer-support group that meets monthly at the Kukui Center near downtown Honolulu.

About 19 kids, who lost a parent to death, divorce, or incarceration, gathered for up to two hours to share memories of Thanksgiving Day together with their families.

The kids, between ages 3 and 12, also took turns talking about what they are thankful for as part of ongoing efforts by Kids Hurt Too Hawaii to help children, struggling with sadness and feelings of isolation, draw strength from their peers.

“Our hope is that our support can enhance a family’s ability to see a sad and despondent child smile again,” said Cynthia White, executive director of Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.