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A Caring Hand Founder Susan Esposito on Believing in Your Cause

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The loss of a loved one can cause unimaginable grief, and at times, the pain can feel absolutely unbearable. A Caring Hand began after Susan lost her father, Billy Esposito, on September 11th, 2001. Coming to life in 2008, the organization provides a path for those in the midst of the emotional journey that comes with loss and helps others to navigate their lives throughout this journey by providing bereavement services to children and their families dealing with the tragedy of loss.
The foundation is dedicated to Billy's memory and is the only non-profit organization in NYC that caters to grieving teenagers, children, and their caregivers. We spoke with Susan about the vision of A Caring Hand, partnering with Social Sunday, and advice for those looking to make a difference in the world too. Read on to learn more. 
Q: Can you let our readers know what A Caring Hand is and tell us a little about the vision of the organization?
 A: A Caring Hand's mission is to meet bereaved children and their families wherever they are in their grief and fulfill their needs in a caring and knowledgeable environment through services to help them with their emotional journey. A Caring Hand (ACH) is the only free standing non-clinical bereavement program in Manhattan. To date, we have provided services to over 2,300 children and their caregivers and have conducted over 1,700 groups to school professionals, community centers, mental health counselors, and clergy. We currently serve Manhattan, Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Our goal is to expand our services to provide individual bereavement counseling and to expand our outreach program even more in schools and in the community. We are actively working on this expansion.
Q: The effects of September 11th, 2001 are incredibly close to my heart as I lived and went to school in the area at the time. I wish an organization like yours had existed then. What are some of the initiatives that A Caring Hand provides to assist children dealing with the loss of a parent?  
A. A Caring Hand was built out of the 9/11 tragedy. My father,  partner and Vice President at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed that day. When I first formed ACH, it was to provide financial assistance for education. Many organizations were giving money for education, and we then began funding the bereavement program. As my family and I were touring a center that we were funding, my brother said to me, "Sue what good is the money for education if these children aren't dealing with their loss and grief?" Following that moment I was off and running, and in 2008 we opened our center.
Many people had told me I wouldn't be able to do this since many have tried to start something similar in Manhattan and had never succeeded. Well, they were wrong. In our 11-week bereavement program, we allow children to grieve in a safe and loving environment. They are able to connect with other children that totally get them and that are feeling the same feelings that they are. The children and their caregivers learn to cope with their loss, remember their loved once, share stories, cry, be sad and mad without being judged. They create a new normal while never forgetting their past.
Q: How did this partnership evolve, and why does linking A Caring Hand and Social Sunday make sense?  
A: I was introduced to Social Sunday by one of our Council of Hope Board members, Samantha Myer. Social Sunday believes in empowering others and lifting people up; at ACH, we are doing the very same thing. We are empowering these children and their families to keep moving forward, showing them they can smile and laugh again, but that it is also okay to shed a tear when needed. Social Sunday supports women and others and we need more companies giving back and supporting organizations and companies that they believe in. We can definitely use more companies like Social Sunday. I can very much relate to the go-getter aspect. I truly believe if I wasn't a go-getter, I would never have started ACH. My father always used to tell me "If someone tells you NO, figure out a way to make them say YES."
Q: What projects does A Caring Hand have in store for 2020? How would you hope to expand next year? 
A: Our main project is to expand our program by adding the individual counseling and expanding our outreach program to provide services to schools and communities dealing with loss. Every day, we receive calls and emails from families, schools and community centers in need of our services. We go into schools and provide groups for the staff, parents and students when they are faced with loss. When someone calls in need, we never want to say we can't help them or have to refer them elsewhere. So very simply, my plan is to make ACH a place that when loss and tragedy occur we can provide any and every type of support one needs at the time.
Q: Any advice for our readers trying to make a difference in their own communities?  
A: The best advice I can give is if you believe in something and feel others can benefit, don't think twice, take action. Take time and look at the big picture of life. It's the little things we do for others and give of ourselves that make up the big picture of life.  

10% of all proceeds from our Radical Empathy tees and pullovers will go straight to A Caring Hand -- you can shop those here. If you'd like to learn more about this incredible organization, you can visit their website, Facebook, or click here to donate.


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