Finding Support During the Pandemic

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While Dougy Center families, volunteers, and staff miss being together in person, the switch to virtual groups continues to provide support and healing for hundreds of kids, teens, young adults, parents, and caregivers each month.

Ann Dagostino, and her kids Andrew (11), Alexis (7), and Nicholas (5), started coming to Dougy Center in 2017, after the death of their husband and father, Mark.

“He was funny, loved to tickle us, let me rest in his lap while he watched the 49ers, loved Pepsi and pizza,” they said when describing Mark. “He loved fishing, putting together models, and spending time with his family — all of us.”

Through both in-person groups before the pandemic, and now in virtual groups, the Dagostino family has found a safe place at Dougy Center. “It has given us the words and space to talk about our experience and our feelings, and about how our life has changed and moved forward since Mark’s death,” said Ann. She appreciates having a place to feel “normal” and where they can be with other families who are going through similar situations.

Even though the kids miss playing on the playground with other Dougy Center participants, they still enjoy the connection and friendships they’ve made through virtual groups. “It helps us not miss Dad so much, it helps us to be happy and connect with other kids like us,” they said. “And we still were able to get stuffies at Christmas!” Alexis added.

“Dougy Center is a remarkably welcoming place,” said Ann. “We have never felt that our grief, our story, our experiences weren’t valued or honored. Dougy Center has given all of us a new community that we are grateful to have as we navigate our lives moving forward.”

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