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Helping Newtown from the baseball field

Bar mitzvah project raises funds for grief counseling

By Cindy Mindell

Jake Rosenkranz getting ready to bat for his West Hartford Little League team last season

Jake Rosenkranz getting ready to bat for his West Hartford Little League team last season

WEST HARTFORD – When the West Hartford Little League opens its season on April 28, a new team will make its debut, thanks to a bar mitzvah project aimed at helping grieving children. West Hartford residents Jake Rosenkranz and his family are sponsoring the Cove Cardinals, named for The Cove Center for Grieving Children and organized in honor of the children of Sandy Hook, site of the Dec. 14 elementary school shootings.
The Cove is an offshoot of an organization created by Jim Emswiler after the sudden death in 1989 of his wife, Mary, at age 39. Failing to find support services for himself and his three young children, Emswiler founded the New England Center for Loss and Transition, an organization with a two-fold mission: to train human service professionals on dying and grief, and to provide support services to adult grievers.
The Cove Center for Grieving Children, a volunteer-driven program developed by the New England Center for Loss and Transition, was launched in Guilford in 1995 by Jim and his second wife, Mary Ann, and therapist Renée McIntyre. The Cove was separately incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) organization in 1998.
Beginning with six families, The Cove now serves hundreds of grieving children ages four to 18 and family members through regular support sessions, and an additional 1,200 individuals each year through community education, “Good Grief” school programming, and professional development training at schools and hospitals. The organization depends entirely on private donations.
The largest of seven Connecticut member organizations of the National Alliance for Grieving Children, The Cove has a coordinating office in Meriden and maintains family Cove Site locations in Guilford, Meriden, New Haven, Stonington, and West Hartford. A site in Easton, serving Fairfield County, opened last month; another will open this spring in East Hartford.
Jake Rosenkranz’s bar mitzvah project is the second one inspired by The Cove. In 2010, Roni Crumb of Cheshire launched a fundraising campaign in memory of her mother, Danielle, who died in 2007 at age 32, two weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Crumb and her father and three siblings took part in programs at The Cove, where, Roni writes on the organization’s website, “They taught us how to remember [my mother] without crying and how to continue living our lives in a way that would make her proud.” Crumb began her bat mitzvah project by baking and selling cookies together with three friends. Later, she and a fellow “Cove kid” who had lost a parent founded The Butterfly Project fundraising project.
Unlike Crumb, Rosenkranz did not learn about The Cove through personal loss, but rather from an aunt who was a facilitator for the organization. “After the incident in Newtown, I wanted to help an organization that helps children,” he says. Rosenkranz had made snowflakes with his middle-school class to decorate the repurposed Monroe middle school that now houses the Sandy Hook Elementary students, and wanted to do more.
Rosenkranz and his family are working to raise money and awareness to support The Cove’s programs, especially at its new Easton site, which serves Newtown.
Rosenkranz will celebrate his bar mitzvah on June 1 at Beth El Temple in West Hartford. He hopes that the Cove Cardinals will find a sponsor to continue his efforts after the team’s 2013 inaugural season.

The Cove will sponsor a gala to benefit grieving chidren and teens on May 4 at the Pond House in Glastonbury. For more information on The Cove Center for Grieving Children and/or the upcoming gala call (203) 634-0500 or visit www.covect.org.

Comments? email cindym@jewishledger.com

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