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Eric: "When I was there, I wasn't different."

Fifteen-year-old Eric's sister died in a car accident when he was nine. He and his family attended the Caring Place the following year, where they received support and comfort.

My 16-year-old sister was killed in a car accident when a man ran a red light. My sister died later that day. At this time you find out which of your friends are truly good friends. By this I mean a person that just lost a loved one can make most people feel uncomfortable and it throws people for a curve. They may not know what to say or how to act around you.

But my family was lucky enough to find a place where you can vent, talk and grieve together. It is called the Caring Place. The Caring Place changed my life in many ways. When I was there I wasn't different. Everyone there has lost a loved one, even many of the leaders. Through the many activities I was helped to learn how to deal with grief and help others deal with their grief.

During a typical night at the Caring Place, after my family and I were greeted, we would all be in a large room and have pizza or something else good to eat. The kids could play games or air hockey together or with their families. There were all ages of kids.

Afterward we would get in small groups based on our ages and there we would participate in individual or group activities to help us with our grief. One project was creating a memory box where you could decorate a box and put items inside that reminded you of the person you had lost.

As a family, one night was dedicated to making a quilt square that would reflect your loved one and then all the squares would be joined together to form a quilt that hangs in the Caring Place — reminding others that they are not alone in their grief.

One very special memory I have of the Caring Place may not seem all that important but it is one that has stayed with me for almost six years. They had the best-tasting cookies!! A special leader would always make sure that I had some of those cookies to take home with me — others would also be able to take leftovers — but I always took those great cookies.

The Caring Place is special because it changes people's lives every day. The pledge that is recited at the beginning and end of each Caring Place night says it all: first one child will volunteer and say "I am here for you," and then another will say "You are here for me," and finally the whole room will say "We are here for each other."

To all who support the Caring Place, it does make a difference and does matter to me and to kids like me. Just like those cookies, the memories from the Caring Place last forever.