Happy Birthday to Us!!!

Martha Atkins relieved her sadness at the death of her brother, by imagining a grief center in San Antonio just for children. In 1997 that dream became reality when she began offering peer support to San Antonio’s grieving children. She started by offering one peer support group that served 19 families, carrying the materials she used for the groups in the trunk of her car, and borrowing space from different local churches for the group meetings.

Soon after its inception, the San Antonio community recognized the benefits of the program and joined together to help purchase a permanent home for the Center at 332 W. Craig. The program grew rapidly in its new home, and services were improved and expanded. In the early years of the new millennium, it became clear that the program was growing out of the house on Craig Street, and Dr. Atkins and the dedicated and enthusiastic board of directors began to search for a larger site that would allow the Center to continue growing and serving more families. They found an outdated office building that offered 10,000 square feet of “growing room” and set about raising the funds needed to purchase and refurbish the building into the lovely, welcoming “Home with a Heart” that it is today.

This year the Children’s Bereavement Center is celebrating 20 years of service to the South Texas community – 20 years of providing children and their families with the support and guidance needed to rebuild their lives following the loss of a loved one. We are honored to serve the San Antonio and South Texas area and look forwards to the next 20 years.



New Resource: Out Came the Sun

The Center is celebrating the achievement of another goal – the creation of a booklet that can be used by teachers, nurses, doctors, parents – anyone who comes into contact with, and wants to help, a grieving child.

Out Came the Sun is a guide for parents, grandparents, teachers – anyone who may come in contact with a grieving child.

Out Came the Sun is a labor of love that was two years in the making. Now a reality, the book is being distributed to schools, hospitals, churches, pediatrician’s office and other organizations to provide useful information about how to support a child who is grieving the loss of a loved one.

Every year the Center provides grief support services for over 1,500 children and adult caregivers. However, there are many more grieving children in San Antonio and surrounding counties who need comfort, support and understanding. For every one of these children, there is an adult parent or caregiver who is struggling to meet the needs of the child, while coping with their own grief. Out Came the Sun is designed to help these adults by providing descriptions of appropriate grief reactions, warning signs to watch for, recommendations for how to handle different issues, referrals to on-line support and helpful books and publications.

“It is our vision to be able to serve every grieving child in our community,” said Executive Director Marian Sokol, “But we know that is not realistic. We hope that by making this book available to as many people as possible, fewer children will find themselves walking the journey of grief alone, and more will be able to recover and lead healthy, productive lives.”

Thanks to Editor Michele Stanush for her insights and recommendations, and the team at TradeCraft for their creative guidance. The first printing of the book was made possible by a contribution from the San Antonio Pi Beta Phi Alumni Association. Already underway, the second printing was made possible by the Porter Loring Family.

The Center hopes to distribute Out Came the Sun to organizations and individuals who would find it most useful. If you would like to order a copy, you can CLICK HERE to contact the Center with your request.

To view now CLICK HERE.



River Parade brings smiles for miles…

This year at the Texas Cavalier’s River Parade our float, Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow, highlighted some of the cutest fairies and leprechauns on this side of the rainbow… all made possible by the support of the Porter Loring Family.

Every year, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade features more than 45 decorated floats gliding down the San Antonio River as thousands of onlookers enjoy the sights and sounds of this unique event. The Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation uses the proceeds from the parade to benefit children’s charities in our community. This year, the Texas Cavaliers donated over five thousand dollars to the Center in support of our peer support programs for grieving children.


New Collaboration Offers Anticipatory Support

For some time the Center has received requests to provide anticipatory support for families who have received a serious or life threatening diagnosis. Children and adults in these families have a great need for comfort, understanding, support and guidance when faced with the challenges of a future filled with doctor’s visits, hospital stays, difficult treatments, and unknowable outcomes.

In 2016, the Center was asked by San Antonio’s START Center for Cancer Treatment and Research to provide anticipatory care for START Center patients and their families. Counseling and peer support groups for children 2-18 are provided by the Center’s staff at START’s Medical Drive location, in collaboration with a play therapist from Austin-based Wonders & Worries. Currently services are available every Tuesday, with plans to expand as need requires.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the START Center and Wonders and Worries to fill this gap in services for San Antonio families,” said Executive Director Marian Sokol. “We look forward to easing the anxiety of these children and to providing support for the adults who are coping with the challenges inherent with such a diagnosis.”

Referrals will come from START Center and the community at large. If you know someone in need of this service, contact Leslie Wood, LCSW at 210-736-4847, ext. 247 or at lwood@cbcst.org.



Medals, Mariachis & Margaritas!

That was the order of the day on March 3 when the Center held its 2017 Fiesta Medal Unveiling party. Friends, supporters, and Fiesta royalty filled the Center during the afternoon event and were welcomed by Ben Pressentin, President of BB&T Bank, the event’s sponsor. Honorary event chair City Councilman Roberto Treviño thanked guests for attending and thanked the Center for its work with grieving children. King Antonio XCV Michael A. Casillas, Rey Feo LXIX Fred Reyes, and Miss Fiesta Madi Moad-Hageman also expressed gratitude for the Center’s work in San Antonio and to the sponsors that support this work.


All guests received the Center’s 2017 Fiesta Medal, designed by well-known folk artist Enedina Casarez Vasquez, who explained that her inspiration for the 2017 medal came from one of the children who attended last year’s event. The Center’s medals are available at the Fiesta Store, 2611 Broadway. Enedina reports she is already working on ideas for the 2018 medal.


2017 Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas’ Fiesta Medal, designed by Enedina Vasquez





Susan Pamerleau is 2017 Hope Award Recipient

Board Chair, Bill Day and Susan Pamerleau

Former Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau received the Center’s second annual Hope Award during the Center’s Spring Symposium on February 3rd. The Hope Award was established in 2016 by Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas to recognize individuals who dedicate their lives to improving outcomes for children. The intent of the award is to recognize and honor those who have made a difference in the lives of individual children, and in addition have impacted policy and served as change agents to improve the systems of care. Susan Pamerleau’s lifetime of service to the nation and this community has been marked by leadership, duty, honor, and excellence in both the public and private sectors.

We are proud that she is the 2017 Hope Award recipient!

SAVE THE DATE: October 2017

Coming up later in the year, you will have the opportunity to double the impact of your contribution to the Center by making a gift during the month of October. We have received a generous challenge from the Wade Richmond Foundation to raise $100,000 in October. If we are successful, the Richmond Family will match YOUR DONATION dollar-for-dollar! If you are thinking about making a gift to the Center – or know of someone else who is – please consider giving in October. We need everyone’s help to meet this challenge!

For more information, please contact the Center’s Development Department at development@cbcst.org.



Staff Spotlight… Welcome Marcella!!

The Center is proud of the role it plays in training social work and counseling interns from local universities, and delighted when one of these students returns to the Center as a seasoned professional and new employee. This is the case with Marcella Castro Garcia, MA, LPC, newest member of the Center’s staff.
Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois, Marcella spent 23 years in the military, living in Tennessee, California, and Hawaii, in addition to Texas.
Marcella received her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her clinical experience includes Jewish Family Service, Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas, and Laurel Ridge Treatment Center. In addition, Marcella served military families as a trauma therapist at Child Safe, and says, “As an Air Force veteran, I understand the challenges service members and their families face within the military community. I am dedicated to working with children and families, and assisting in the healing process after a traumatic event.”

When not caring for the Center’s clients, Marcella enjoys music and dancing. In fact, when stationed in Hawaii she belonged to a Hula dance troupe that would entertain guests of the Hilton Hotel on Waikiki Beach. She is the mother of two young sons who coincidentally were born on the same day 6 years apart.

The Center extends a warm welcome to Marcella Castro Garcia!



Recap of Brew-Ha Roundup!!!

It was a beautiful day for the Brew-Ha Roundup out at Specht’s Store this past Saturday. With over 350 runners and over 500 people in attendance to support the Children’s Bereavement Center, it was truly a memorable event.

Grammy nominated, SLIM BAWB AND THE FABULOUS STUMPGRINDERS, did a GREAT JOB of performing for the participants and kicking off the post race fun.

Thank you to Camp Gladiator and Hoppy Runners for being onsite and donating prizes for our adult costume contest winners. It was cuteness overload for all the kid’s costume contest participants!!

Click on the photo below to see more photos from the event and be on the lookout for next year’s date!!


Cleto Rodriguez presented the Kid’s Costume Contest Participants.

All Brew-Ha Roundup proceeds go to support the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas to help children and young adults who are grieving the loss of a parent, sibling, or other significant loved one.



For more information please contact Franchesca at fvelten@cbcst.org.

Center Kicks Off 20th Anniversary Year

The Center began its 20th Anniversary year with a luncheon honoring 20 of its most steadfast supporters on October 13. Over 600 “close friends” gathered in the Mays Family Center at the Witte Museum to recognize and thank the individuals and organizations that have continued to support the Center’s mission throughout the past two decades.


Happy 20th!! Zak Williams (center), son of the late Robin Williams, was welcomed by 20th Anniversary chairmen (pictured left to right) Sallie Chasnoff, Janie Worth, Mallory Ahl, and Linda Fugit prior to the luncheon.

“We couldn’t have done it without you!” said Executive Director Marian Sokol during her remarks, adding, “We are so grateful to you, and for having this opportunity to publicly thank you.”

Chairs for the event were: Janie Worth, Linda Fugit, Sallie Chasnoff and Mallory Ahl. Tom and Pat Frost served as honorary chairs and Zak Williams, son of the late Robin Williams, shared the story of his own grief experience with attendees. The 20th Anniversary Committee worked on the event for 18 months and the 20 honorees will soon be recognized by a permanent art installation at the Center.