America Supports You: Support Group Gets ‘Newman’s Own’ Grant
By Sharon Foster
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2008 A home-front group of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program has received a $2,000 grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, received the grant during a ceremony at the Pentagon last month in which 15 nonprofit groups received a total of $75,000 in grant awards. The grants were awarded in a Pentagon ceremony three weeks before actor Paul Newman's Sept. 26 death. Since 1982, the Newman's Own Foundation has donated more than $250 million to educational and charitable organizations worldwide.
This is the second year TAPS has received a Newman’s Own grant.
"We are very grateful for the support from Newman's Own,” said Ami Neiberger-Miller, TAPS public affairs officer and sister of Army Spc. Christopher Neiberger, who was killed in Iraq last year.
“It is very touching to know that the staff at Newman’s Own believes in the work TAPS does with thousands of families who have experienced the loss of a loved one who served in the military,” Neiberger-Miller said. “Their support for the families of the fallen is deeply appreciated."
The Newman's Own grant will support the group’s 2009 Annual Good Grief Camp and balloon release event during the National Military Survivors Seminar, held Memorial Day weekend near the nation’s capital.
For the past 14 years, children attending the Good Grief Camp across the nation have written messages to family members they’ve lost in wars, attached the messages to balloons and sent them skyward. The messages carry updates on family news, such as learning to ride a bike or getting ready for a school dance. They also can be very personal – a child expressing feelings of loneliness from missing a parent.
“Children need specialized support to deal with their grief,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS founder and chairman. “When we held our first Good Grief Camp, now almost 15 years ago, we relied on advice from bereavement professionals, who indicated it would be beneficial for child survivors to have a connection point with the people they’ve lost through a balloon release.”
Carroll believes the Good Grief Camp for young survivors provides a safe place for connection and sharing.
“Instead of being the only kid at school who lost a dad in a war, a child becomes part of a peer group of children their own age, who have all experienced similar types of losses,” Carroll said.
TAPS officials said they are excited and honored to know that when more than 300 children send balloons carrying notes into the skies next year, the balloon release will be sponsored by Newman’s Own, as well as by the Fisher House Foundation and the Military Times Media Group.