Dr. Gerald Glasser was the catalyst and inspiration for the start of Imagine in Westfield, wanting to ensure that no child should ever have to grieve alone. Already a supporter and familiar with Mary Robinson’s work at Good Grief in Morristown, Glasser invited her to open another grief support center in Union County. An initial grant for startup funding for Imagine was provided through the the Glasser Foundation, a philanthropic organization set up in memory of Glasser’s son, Thomas Glasser, who was a victim of the 9/11 attack. The Glasser Foundation continues to provide extraordinarily generous annual support to Imagine.
Mary Robinson is the founder and executive director of Imagine. She has worked in the field of children’s grief support since 1997.
Imagine is founded on the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to grieve in a supportive and understanding environment, and that the role of peers and a caring, healthy adult in the life of a grieving child is critically important. Our purpose is to ensure children receive support at the time of their loss so that they can develop healthy coping skills, grown in their resiliency, and grow up to lead emotionally healthy and meaningful and productive lives.
Our goals for the coming year include continuing to serve and expand services to bereaved families through our comprehensive trauma-informed peer grief support and education model, and to grow our Coping with Illness program. Additionally, our goal is to expand the availability of our individual supportive services and add support for individuals coping with Complicated Grief. And, finally, we will begin offering bereavement support services to children and families in Newark in the fall of 2018 through partnerships with schools and agencies in the city.
We provide education and free year-round trauma-informed peer grief support for children ages 3-18 and young adults 18-30 who are coping with loss due to the death of a parent or sibling. In the case of teens who attend Imagine, it can also be the death of a friend. Support is also provided for caregivers, children and young adults who have a parent or sibling living with a life-altering physical illness.
Concurrent support groups are available for parents and guardians in both programs, and for the person with the illness in the Coping with Illness program. In the area of education and outreach, we provide on-site bereavement and crisis support after a loss, and educational workshops, school in-services, youth education and presentations for businesses, corporations, schools and community agencies.
- Leased a new 11,473-square-foot space, which allows us to double the number of children and families we serve.
- We developed a new partnership with Family Promise, a national organization serving children and families experiencing homelessness The program, called “Loss, Grief and Homelessness” will be rolled out nationally to all FP affiliates.
- We received a two-year grant from the NY Life Foundation to expand our services into Newark.
- The executive director received the New Jersey Heroes award from the Governor’s Office; Imagine received Union County Human Relations Commission Unity Award for Achievement.
The majority of our funding comes from individuals, and then from corporates, businesses, grants and third-party events.
If we can support children and adults at the time of their loss, we can transform grief, trauma and loss into resilience, empathy and compassion and create a world where children coping with loss grow up emotionally healthy and able to lead meaningful and productive lives.
Where: 244 Sheffield St., Mountainside
Serving: We serve all of Union County and beyond, and provide educational in-services, workshops and presentations on grief and loss statewide
Key members: Mary Robinson, founder and executive director; Connie Palmer, clinical training director; Mandi Zucker, program director; Rich Szeto, chief operating officer