Fred Rogers, Honorary Chairman
From the inception of the Highmark Caring Foundation in 1985 until his untimely death in 2003, Fred Rogers was its Honorary Chairman. The creator and host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood gave his support and his presence to Caring Place events and also guided much of the philosophy of the Caring Place program.
Fred spoke at the dedications of the two Caring Place facilities he lived to see built, expressing what the Caring Place is about.
In Pittsburgh, in December of 1997, he spoke of the safety of the Caring Place and of the invitation extended for those in grief to be themselves:
"In this place, people are surrounded by others who remind them that it's all right to be who they are at that moment. That is so important for children and adults."
And in 2001 in Erie, Fred touched on the importance for grieving children of being able to express their feelings:
"Children need to talk about their feelings. It's healthy to talk about their feelings. And there are wonderful people in this world who want to help. I'm very grateful to be able to be a part of this marvelous Caring Place."
If a single statement could be said to encapsulate the heart of the Caring Place, it would be this quote, which is on the wall of the Forum in each of the four Caring Place facilities:
"It is only natural that we and our children find many things hard to talk about.
But anything human is mentionable and anything mentionable can be manageable.
The mentioning can be difficult, and the managing too, but both can be done if we're surrounded by love and trust."
Fred Rogers was a one-of-a-kind neighbor, friend, and partner. Our lives are better for his having been a part of them. His inspiration lives on, as Honorary Chairman and as mentor and friend. His legacy will continue through the work of the Caring Place.