Honoring Joan Schweizer Hoff’s 25 years at The Dougy Center

If you or your family were to experience the life shattering news that someone you loved died of suicide, where would you turn? For thousands of children, teens, and adults in our community, they turned to The Dougy Center, and for the last 25 years, specifically to Dougy Center staff member, Joan Schweizer Hoff.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Joan’s service as a Dougy Center staff member. You’ll know Joan by her kind, gentle, and supportive yet strong presence as she holds your hand through the wake of an unimaginable loss. You’ll know her when she holds space for your grief – and listens when you need it most.

I am writing today in the hope that you will help us honor Joan’s 25 years of service at The Dougy Center with a tax-deductible contribution to support grieving children and families.

Currently The Dougy Center is serving 87 kids impacted by a suicide death in their family. And we have 6 kids who are on our wait list for a bereavement support group after their mom, dad, brother, or sister died of suicide.  That’s why our goal is to raise $25,000—specifically to support our suicide bereavement group and those kids who are waiting.

I am honored to work alongside Joan and to have known her since I was a grieving teen. If you ask Joan about her career at The Dougy Center, she will tell you she feels fortunate to have found a job that nourishes both her mind and her spirit. She will tell you that the courage and resiliency she witnesses every day in others, has inspired her in her own grief journey.

“My personal grief journey came three years into my work at The Dougy Center. My husband, Larry, died of suicide. The staff and volunteers wrapped themselves around me and offered me the support I needed in my own healing. As a result of Larry’s death and to honor his remarkable life, I became involved in the area of suicide prevention and postvention. I am passionate about helping and educating others who experience a suicide death. I am very proud of the work we are doing and how it has changed the way people talk about and exhibit grief in the aftermath of a suicide death.”

-Joan Schweizer Hoff, M.A.

Throughout Joan’s 25 years of service and her work in suicide prevention and postvention, thousands of grieving children and families have been comforted by her compassionate heart.

Your gift today will have a tremendous impact on families as they navigate the difficult journey ahead… journeys like those experienced by Maya Gersh and Sylvia Grosvold. Both Maya and Sylvia were five years old when their mothers died by suicide. Maya and Sylvia met Joan at The Dougy Center over eight years ago and bonded immediately. They have been friends ever since!

Sylvia explained, “When my mother died, I was just five years old. I felt very uprooted. One of the most constant and stable parts of my life was suddenly gone. But when I went to The Dougy Center, Joan was always there for me, week after week, year after year.”

Maya attributes The Dougy Center, and Joan specifically, to helping her learn to talk about her mom’s death and about suicide in general. Joan’s influence on Maya has inspired Maya to take steps to become a volunteer at The Dougy Center and to follow in Joan’s footsteps in the future.

Maya explained the profound impact Joan had on her life and how far she has come since walking through The Dougy Center doors so many years ago. “Joan is a big role model of mine. Whenever I am in a room with Joan, I feel empowered. Without Joan, I couldn’t educate others on suicide awareness. Without Joan, I couldn’t talk about my mother’s death. Without Joan, I couldn’t be the young woman I am today.”

Your gift today will honor Joan and help families find comfort and compassion following the suicide death of a parent or sibling. Will you join me in honoring Joan by making a gift of $2,500, $1,500, $250, or any amount that is most comfortable to you today?

Your past support has given comfort to so many grieving children and families. I am personally and professionally grateful for all that you have done. Please say, ‘yes’ to honoring Joan’s life-changing work in suicide prevention and postvention, and help us raise $25,000 to sponsor Joan’s suicide bereavement support group! And because we believe that no child should grieve alone, ALL Dougy Center support groups and services are provided at no cost to families.

Today, your gift will help a young person cope and create space for healing. Thank you so much for all you do for grieving children in our community.

P.S. Having gone through The Dougy Center program myself as a grieving teen, I know firsthand the life-changing work that Joan accomplishes every day. Please join me in honoring Joan’s 25 year commitment to grieving families by making a tax-deductible donation of $1,500 (the cost for one child and their parent to participate in a group for one year) or whatever amount is comfortable for your family. Every dollar makes a difference.