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Highmark Caring Place marks 20 years of helping children and families find hope

Twentieth anniversary event celebrates success with message of hope

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 24, 2017) — The Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, will celebrate 20 years of helping children and families find hope in the midst of their grief with a gala event at 6 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Penn Avenue Place in Pittsburgh. The event will include Caring Place Board of Directors chairman and former Steelers running back Merrill Hoge, Caring Place families, volunteers, supporters, and Highmark executives in an evening of celebration and remembrance.

The first Caring Place facility was dedicated in Pittsburgh in 1997. Other facilities soon followed in Erie, Harrisburg, and Warrendale in 2001, 2003, and 2009, respectively. Since opening its doors, the Caring Place has served more than 100,000 family and community members.

The evening will include performances by children from Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, North Allegheny Golden Strolling Strings, Pittsburgh Youth Chorus, and Thomas Dance Studio.

Charles LaVallee will be honored for his work in starting the Caring Place. Mr. LaVallee was executive director of the Caring Foundation and started the Caring Place after the death of his stepson. This personal tragedy brought awareness to the lack of community support for grieving children and their families.

As a community resource, the Highmark Caring Place is available to grieving children and families free of charge, regardless of insurance coverage. The Highmark Caring Place, primarily supported by Highmark Inc., reflects Highmark's commitment to the needs of children and families in the communities it serves.

"When the Highmark Caring Place began, it was a new concept and an innovative program for children and families who have had a family member die," said Terese Vorsheck, clinical psychologist and director of the Highmark Caring Place. "One facility grew to four and we have since developed into a national model serving thousands of children, adults, and community members each year. We are deeply grateful that we have been able, over the last 20 years, to help grieving families in western and central Pennsylvania find hope again after tragedy," she added.

"The Caring Place has been a great support system for me and especially for my girls," said Jennifer Beck, who has attended the Caring Place program with her two daughters. "Everyone here has been so helpful and a great resource and I don't know what I would have done without it," she added.

NOTE: Ms. Beck and her daughters will be available for media at the event.

About the Highmark Caring Place

The mission of the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, is to raise awareness of the needs of grieving children, provide programs to address those needs, and empower the community to support children who have experienced the death of a loved one. Since its inception in 1996, the Caring Place has served more than 90,000 family and community members. Financial support from Highmark Inc. allows the Caring Place, with facilities in Lemoyne, Erie, Pittsburgh and Warrendale, Pennsylvania to offer its programs at no cost to the families and the community. Please visit


Matt Stehl
Highmark Health