A fun and safe place for grieving children.


Zumba class raises more than $2,000


Comfort Zone young adult camper and volunteer Jess Lavine recently held her second annual Zumba fundraising event for Comfort Zone in Massachusetts, this year bringing in more than $2,000.


Jess says that hosting this event has “brought together two of the most important communities in my life.”


With her friend Renae Nichols, the Zumba fundraiser has been held for both children and adults. The children’s portion includes dancing, games and limbo, while the adult class gets to experience dancing from six instructors in one night.


“Despite the snowy and slow commute,” Jess says about this year’s event, “everyone was smiling as they danced the night away for a good cause. Not only do the attendees get in a fun and high energy workout, they get to learn about Comfort Zone Camp too.”


Jess first came to Comfort Zone in 2013 as a young adult camper and has stayed involved because the experienced helped find a new “spark” in life following her mother’s death.


“My experience as a camper and now as a volunteer has continued to enrich my life,” she says. “Camp is a magical place full of love, support, healing and a whole bunch of fun.”


Jess says that she plans to continue fundraising so more children get to benefit from camp.


“I know how healing this program can be and I want to do everything possible to make sure other children and young adults get to experience it, too.”


Volunteers for Good Program Provides Funding to Comfort Zone


Dale Berry, Managing Partner of the Raleigh Office of New York Life presented Comfort Zone Camp a $2,500 Volunteers for Good grant in February.


New York Life volunteers have helped establish camp programs in North Carolina since 2011. Thanks to their volunteer hours and grants such as the Volunteers for Good initiative, Comfort Zone will have two camp programs in 2015.


“We are grateful to the New York Life Foundation for continuing to support our mission,” said Comfort Zone VP Mendi Nieters.


The Volunteers for Good Program recognizes and encourages the group efforts of New York Life’s employees, retirees and agents. To learn more, please visit www.newyorklifefoundation.org.


Volunteers needed in North Carolina

Did you know that Comfort Zone needs more than 80 volunteers for each camp weekend? As we expand in North Carolina to two weekend programs, we need even more volunteers!


A volunteer training session is coming up the evenings of March 24 and 26. Both 3-hour sessions are required for you to become a Comfort Zone volunteer. Click here to sign up. We are in high need of male and clinical volunteers. 


If you are already a trained volunteer, be sure to log into your Comfort Zone Camp profile to sign up for the next camp program, coming May 1. Volunteer roles include Big Buddies, nurses, Healing Circle Leaders and Assistants, floaters and much more. 


A second volunteer training session will be held Sept. 12. This will be a 6-hour training session. A second North Carolina camp will be held the weekend of Oct. 2


Volunteers are also needed at this year's Charity Golf Classic! Click here for more details on how you can help at this event. 


Volunteers needed to plan Grief Relief 5K in N.J.

Wouldn’t it be great to help a grieving child attend Comfort Zone Camp?


We’re planning our annual Grief Relief 5K in New Jersey! Come be part of the planning team to make a difference in children’s lives.  No experience with planning a 5K? No worries … we have all the tools you need.


This year's event will be Saturday, Oct. 10 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Many more details to come soon! 


Help a child learn how to grieve, heal and grow at Comfort Zone Camp.  To be part of this amazing team, please contact Regional Development Officer Maria Darby at (201)914-0383 or [email protected].

Fore! Golf tournament returns Sept. 14

The Comfort Zone Charity Golf Classic returns Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, and we need you!  Golfing skills or knowledge are not a requirement. You only a passion for Comfort Zone and willingness to help! 


We have been fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers to launch this fundraiser for the last 4 years.  For our 2015 tournament, we are expanding the committee and are looking for individuals who have time and energy to join the team to make this our best tournament ever!  


We need help requesting raffle and auction items, organizing the auction, decorating the reception, selling sponsorship and day of support.  If you want to learn more or are interesting in helping, please contact our Committee Chair Mary Wolkomir at [email protected] or call 919-609-8222. 


Proceeds from the Comfort Zone Charity Golf Classic fund critical therapeutic programing in North Carolina. In 2015 we are expanding, offering two camp weekends and two volunteer training sessions.


Sponsorships and golf tickets will be on sell soon!  Watch our website and Facebook page for more details. 



Programs expand in North Carolina

A second camp weekend is coming to North Carolina in 2015. Thanks to the success of the past few years with a camp weekend in North Carolina, a second program has been added in October. 


Registration is open for camp weekend and volunteer training sessions. Click on the links below for more information. 


Volunteeer Training Sessions
Tuesday, March 24 and Thursday, March 26 -- Two 3-hour evening trainings, Location TBD
Saturday, Sept. 12 -- 6-hour training session, Location TBD


3-Day Camp Program
Friday, May 1 -- Camp Kanata, Wake Forest
Friday, Oct. 2 -- Camp Kanata, Wake Forest

"My Second Home"


Karina G. attended her first Comfort Zone Camp in 2012 when she was 15, very much still grieving the loss of her father. When Karina first found out that she would be attending the camp, she did not want to go.


“I thought it was just going to be a lot of sadness and people crying everywhere,” says Karina.


However, by the time she left the camp it was clear that going was one of the best decisions she has ever made.


“I just felt so safe and welcomed by everyone there and it was so nice to have other kids there that were going through the same things as me,” says Karina.


One of Karina’s most cherished memories of her camp experience was during a bonfire the camp had. During the bonfire there is a moment of silence, while one person sings the song, “It’s OK to Remember.”


“During that time, I think about all the times my dad and I use to share and knowing that it’s ok and he is in a better place,” says Karina. “This is not a goodbye, it’s an I’ll see you later.”


With her Comfort Zone Camp experience having such a positive impact on her life, Karina has decided to give back. She is now a Big Buddy for Comfort Zone assisting children during the camp weekends manage and cope with their grief just as she was helped a few years ago.


“Throughout my life, I have always wanted to help children and I know this camp makes a positive impact on these kids,” says Karina.  “I don’t just consider it a weekend camp I go to, I now call it my second home.”

Registration list coming in 2015

If you are registering a child for a Comfort Zone Camp program in 2015 or yourself for a young adult program, a new and simpler, registration list is replacing what we formerly called a waiting list.


When you fill out an application to attend a camp in your region, your child’s name will now be placed on a new Registration List. Starting 10-12 weeks before a camp program begins, you will be notified if your child is eligible attend the upcoming camp. 


Camp registrations are dependent on a variety of factors, including the number of applications and volunteer resources available.


This new process eliminates the need to reapply for a camp program later in the year if the dates that you selected are not available. If, for example, there is not space or resources available for your child at a camp in May, your child’s name is placed on the list for eligibility to attend the next camp program scheduled for your region.


It is also possible that if you register for a camp for later in 2015, your child may be eligible to attend camp earlier in the year based on space and resources.  We may reach out to you if your child is eligible for an earlier camp program.

"One of the most profound experiences of my life"


This past fall, several RiverFront Investment Group employees attended a Comfort Zone volunteer training session and then proceeded to give back their time at camp in Virginia.


RiverFront’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Peter Quinn, was among those employees, serving as a Big Buddy.


“It gave us a wonderful opportunity to put our corporate values into tangible action,” Peter said. “It also brought us close together as people. Working next to the decicated staff at Comfort Zone and seeing them in action taught us a lot about teamwork.”


A slogan on RiverFront’s website is evidence of the company’s teamwork: “We’d like to work with you because, like a river, it might lead to something big.”


For Peter, working work Comfort Zone has led to something much bigger than he ever expected.


“My opportunity to serve as a Big Buddy was one of the most profound experiences of my life,” he said. “It’s difficult to put that into words.”


If you’d like to join Comfort Zone Camp next year as a volunteer, click here to check out training sessions coming up across the country in January!  


Guardian: Comfort Zone is "the best way to grieve and heal"


Welfa Blount’s family dynamic was drastically changed when Tamia, then 7 years old, lost her 26-year-old mother from heart disease.  After the loss of her mother, Welfa became the guardian of young Tamia. 


It was clear to Welfa that Tamia was feeling alone, obviously feeling the effects of missing her mother and everything in her life changing so quickly. This is when Welfa looked into having Tamia attend a weekend with Comfort Zone Camp in Virginia. The results were extremely positive for Tamia and her family.  


“At Comfort Zone Camp, Tamia is encouraged to honor her feelings and learn ways to cope with her loss in a fun, safe, and caring environment,” says Welfa.  “The best part is she gets to interact with kids who know just what she is going through.”


Seeing the positive impact Comfort Zone Camp had on Tamia has changed Welfa and her family’s outlook on death as well. “Our family has a newly gained respect for the importance of taking the time to mourn, grieve, and heal,” says Welfa.


After seeing such positive effects that Comfort Zone Camp has had on Tamia and her family, Welfa strongly feels that giving back and supporting Comfort Zone is extremely important.


“To support Comfort Zone Camp is investing in the wellness of our community,” says Welfa. “Children who learn and practice skills that are encouraged at camp are empowered to grow up to be well-rounded, responsible, and productive adults.”


Welma is also an advocate of Comfort Zone Camp, telling parents just how positive the Comfort Zone Camp experience can be. According to Welma, “Sending your child to Comfort Zone Camp shows them that you love them enough to give them the best way to grieve and heal.”


Tamia was one of 5 campers to receive a scholarship this past summer to attend a Shaka Smart basketball camp! Click here to check out our Facebook post about it. 


Make your investment to the Comfort Zone community today! Click here to get started. 

4,300 people served by therapeutic services, group support and volunteer programs


By Pete Shrock

Vice President of Strategy and Design


Comfort Zone knows that children are most successful in their grief journeys when the community supports their efforts to heal and grow in healthy ways. This is why one very important part of our mission is to continually grow the community of people who can be comfort zones to children in grief.


A comfort zone is anyone who helps a child be successful on their grief journey. From connecting a family to resources to volunteering their time, just about anyone has the power to become a comfort zone.


In fact, every person who participates in our trainings, support groups or grief summits becomes a comfort zone – not only for themselves, but for their colleagues, friends and families. Every parent whose children attend our programs becomes a comfort zone – not only for their children, but also for their workplace, school and neighborhood. In fact, every child who attends our programs becomes a comfort zone – not only for himself, but for every other person they ever encounter who has experienced a loss.


In 2014, nearly 4,300 people became comfort zones through our therapeutic services, groups support and volunteer programs. In addition to that, thousands of individuals, businesses and foundations donate to make it possible for us to create ever-growing impact, and by doing so, they become comfort zones to us all. Together, our impact is greater than any other year in Comfort Zone’s history; we are an incredible community, and I’m proud to be a part of it.


I thank you for being a comfort zone in 2014, and I look forward to working with you to grow this community even more in the year to come. 


"Rock star" shines in the community


Comfort Zone Massachusetts Regional Development Officer Sue Oppici sums up Mary Barber in three simple words: “a rock star.”


She’s also a “fundraiser turned young adult camper turned volunteer council member turned Grief Relief 5K chair.”


Yes, Mary has been very active since she joined the Comfort Zone community in 2012 to raise money on the Grief Relief Team.


Mary has volunteered at eight – yes eight! – camps in 2014, as well as chairing the annual Grief Relief 5K in her hometown of Medford, Massachusetts.


“When asked about my involvement with Comfort Zone, I often pause to find the right words,” Mary said. “I often tell people to take a day to experience camp. This is not because I do not want to describe it or that I am put on the spot, but putting a weekend full of magic into a few words is seemingly impossible.”


Mary said that camp “creates this infectious magic in a sea of grief and sadness.”


“Mary truly understands the benefits of Comfort Zone’s programs and how it positively impacts and inspires each camper’s future,” said Comfort Zone’s Sue.


Mary also said that Comfort Zone has helped her learn more about herself and helped her focus on her strengths.


“I can pinpoint where my leadership skills require development, but more importantly I now know the importance of a genuine community” Mary said.


You, too, can be a rock star with Mary! Click here to get started on creating your own fundraiser for Comfort Zone.


Mother says "I have my son back"


“Mom, I’m not alone.” Those are the words that Massachusetts camper Jason told his mother Behishta at the end of this summer following an August camp.


At Comfort Zone Camp, children and teens learn that they are not alone. They have a voice. They can open up with their peers and talk about the deaths that have impacted their lives.


Behishta said that Jason, a 5th grader, has gone to many therapists since his father died in January, but they didn’t have the impact that Comfort Zone had on him. She said that Jason talks about camp all the time now and gets excited when seeing items in the mail from Comfort Zone. 


“Since he has been to camp, he has been so much better,” she said recently. “I’m not sure what you all did, but I feel like I have my son back. At camp he really got to experience that he's not alone, and I think that changed him.”


Children like Jason are able to attend camp thanks to the generosity of others. Click here to make an impact for camp programs in 2015.  

Volunteers: "You can and will make a difference"


For the past five years, Darlene and Ron Patishnock have been actively involved as volunteers for Comfort Zone at New Jersey and Massachusetts camps. Most recently the couple traveled to The Today Show plaza in New York City for Children’s Grief Awareness Day and held signs that were seen by millions on TV. They even had an interview on Sirius XM about Comfort Zone.


As 2014 draws to a close, Darlene and Ron shared why they give their time to volunteer at camps and events year after year.  


Why do you volunteer for Comfort Zone?


I saw the difference in a friend (we previously bonded over similar losses in our families) once she came back from volunteering at camp. She was revitalized and insisted that I give it a try. I always felt grief was a journey, it changes over time, changes how you react to situations; it is always there. We can deal with it, but sometimes it rears its ugly head, and we can’t always control when or where it floods back into our reality.


Once I went to a volunteer training session and camp, and heard my words in so many others, I knew it was the place for me. I had to help, because I didn’t get that help when I needed it, and I felt I could make a difference. And I do make a difference. The Comfort Zone community of staff, volunteers, campers and camper families is nothing short of amazing and filled with the most caring, giving, selfless people you will ever meet. Comfort Zone Camp is my reality, and really how I feel the world the rest of the world should be.



Results. After the initial training, meeting other volunteers and staff, and being asked to help by my wife, I found a genuine bubble of reality and caring that I never thought or dreamed could exist. My wife said I would be good at this and I have to say it is good for me too.



What keeps you both coming back?

The volunteering experience gives as much back as it asks of us. The opportunity to make a difference to someone who is suffering loss fuels our humanitarian side, and we experience a direct and almost immediate reward.


For someone wondering if they should volunteer for Comfort Zone, what’s the No. 1 thing you would tell them?

You can and will make a difference by just being there to support these youngsters. And if you find yourself doing more than that, the rewards are exponential.


You can join Darlene and Ron as volunteers in 2015! Check out our calendar for upcoming training sessions in your area. 

New weekend for North Carolina camp

Comfort Zone Camp's presence in North Carolina is expanding in 2015! 


A volunteer training session will be held the evenings of March 24 and 26. The exact location will be revealed in early 2015, but you can register for the training session now! Click here to sign up. 


Camp weekend is coming May 1-3 to Camp Kanata in Wake Forest. Click here for more information. 


A second camp program will be held later in the year and will be added to the calendar in early 2015! 

2014 Grief Relief 5K Highlights

The annual Grief Relief 5Ks in Massachusetts (4th year) and New Jersey (5th) year were a huge success with an increase in registrations and donations! The events combined to raise more than $60,000 for Comfort Zone! 


This year's events were captured by attendees through Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #CZCWalk. Click here to check out photos from both areas. 


Here are some moments captured by staff in New Jersey, where runners and walkers braved a cool, damp day: 



The weather was a bit nicer in Massachusetts: 

Healing Circle Leader Council becomes Clinical Advisory Council

This fall, the Healing Circle Leader Council changed its name to the Clinical Advisory Council to further demonstrate the work that they do for Comfort Zone.


The council’s mission is to support and contribute to the goals of Comfort Zone, specifically related to the development of Comfort Zone’s therapeutic programming.


The council is lead by Karen Reilly-Jones of Virginia, serving as President; Kristen Stefureac of North Carolina, serving as Vice President; and Jen Roman of Massachusetts, serving as Secretary. 


Current Members are: Rebecca Feld (Virginia), Michele Arnone (California),  Sue Montgomery (Massachusetts), and Michael Kocet (Massachusetts).


If you have been a Healing Circles Leader and are interested in hearing more about the Council, please contact Abby Moncrief ([email protected]).

October 2014 California Updates

A huge thanks goes out to Bob & Donna Delonti and Robert & Talitha Critelli for hosting a fundraising event this month at the Critelli's home. The event featured a lively silent auction and Vella Pizza, a unique, outdoor culinary experience of artisanal wood-fired pizza. The event has raised more than $9,000 so far. 


Additional shout-outs and thank yous go to: 


- Volunteer John Kennedy for helping out at the LMU event!


- Everyone who joined us at the 4th Annual Family Reunion! Check out this great community:



- Thanks to the New York Life Agents who volunteered their time at the Family Reunion!


- Lastly, thank you to BJ’s for donating Root Beer Floats and gift cards to the event!


Upcoming events:

Join Comfort Zone’s Volunteer Council at Knott’s Scary Farm on October 24th!  For more information click here!


October 2014 North Carolina Updates

The annual Charity Golf Classic was a huge success this year raising funds for upcoming Comfort Zone programs in North Carolina. This year once again featured Tarheel great James Worthy as a guest speaker! Thanks to everyone who came out to a rainy event on Sept. 8 at Brier Creek Country Club!




The next North Carolina camp program is coming in May 2015. Watch the calendar this month for registration information and volunteer training sessions. 

October 2014 New Jersey Updates


THANK YOU to everyone who braved the rain on Saturday, Oct. 11 to run, walk, volunteer and support the 5th Annual Grief Relief 5K! This year's event raised more than $26,000 for Comfort Zone's programs. Click here to check out the community's tweets and photos on Instagram!


Additional shout-outs and thank yous go to:


- Volunteer Kelly Roskilly for putting on a jewelry fundraiser for Comfort Zone. Kelly was also able to get 3 porta-johns and trays of cookies donated for the 5K.


- The Diaz and Negrin family for donating much needed camp supplies.


- New York Life – Volunteers for Good for donating over 120 blankets to our campers for our September and October programs.


- Camper and volunteer Keith Latteri for getting us the news spot on News 4 to promote the 5K. Click here to check it out!


- Volunteer Bob Quinn for getting a gift card donated by KPMG to purchase snacks for the 5K.

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