CNN chooses 10 heroes each year, with a public vote for the Hero of the Year — with the winner receiving a $100,000 donation for his or her organization, as well as the attention that comes with being chosen by a major media network.
Imagine offers free year-round grief support groups for children ages 3-18 who have had a parent or sibling die, or for families caring for a member with a life-altering physical illness.
“We are thrilled, but not surprised, Mary has been selected,” Imagine board Chair John Toriello said in a prepared statement. “Having served on the board since Imagine’s inception in 2011, I know Mary is an outstanding and dedicated leader who makes and has made an enormous contribution in helping grieving children and families. We are very proud of her.”
Robinson, who has worked in the field of child grief support since 1997, founded Imagine in 2011, inspired by her own father’s death when she was 14 and with help from Dr. Gerald Glasser’s Glasser Foundation that was set up in memory of Glasser’s son, 9/11 victim Thomas Glasser.
“This award means we are able to shine an even bigger spotlight on our mission of supporting children, teens, young adults and their families who are coping with loss due to death or illness,” Robinson said in a statement. “In New Jersey alone, there are currently over 114,000 bereaved youth who have had a parent die. Nationally, the number is over 4.9 million. At Imagine, over 430 children and adults from 59 towns across New Jersey attend our support groups every two weeks in Mountainside and Newark.
“However, serving 430 people at our centers is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of youth needing support.”
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“I am so honored to receive this award,” Robinson concluded.