New York State Funeral Directors Association

NYS Tribute Foundation board member Emily Nieman heard about St. Mary’s Hospital for Children many times, but she never had an opportunity to visit until the Foundation approved a grant to support the hospital’s Bereavement Program.

Following a warm reception and tour in July, Nieman left wishing she could do more for the 97-bed facility that serves children facing serious illness.

“I was really overwhelmed with all the positive, innovative work that they’re doing there,” said Nieman, a 25-year grief counselor whose husband John owns the Funeraria Juan-John's Funeral Home in Brooklyn.

The NYS Tribute Foundation is directing a $3,000 grant to the hospital’s Bereavement Services program.

Founded in 1870, it’s the oldest children’s hospital in New York City. The hospital established a Palliative Care Program in 1984 – one of the first in the U.S.

It’s a place of welcome for children facing complex conditions including chronic illness, traumatic brain injury, premature birth complications and other disorders. St. Mary’s now serves more than 2,000 children daily through inpatient and home care programs.

Despite difficult situations, children there are exploring art and music and doing many of the things healthy kids do, Nieman said.

“I was really overwhelmed with all the positive, innovative work that they’re doing,” said Neiman, who described the hospital as being “at the cutting edge of everything that is new and innovative.”

“They’ll help their patients in any way possible,” Neiman said.

Music, yoga and massage therapy are but a few methods employed for relaxation and rehabilitation and to reduce pain and anxiety for these children – some of whom are facing life-threatening illness.

Many of the children go on to lead happy and productive lives – but some don’t, and their family members need help coping with loss. These services will be the focus of the Tribute Foundation’s support.

NYS Tribute Foundation board member Emily Nieman meets with leaders at St. Mary's Hospital for Children in July 2015Bereavement services play an important role in palliative care, said Jonah Cardillo, Senior Director of Grants and Program Innovation at St. Mary’s.

“Our expert staff help parents and siblings of terminally ill children prepare for and navigate one of their life’s most difficult journeys. Many of our families wouldn’t be able to afford proper counseling and support outside of St. Mary’s,” Cardillo said.

“Funding from partners like the New York State Tribute Foundation enables St. Mary’s to be that safety net when our families need us most,” Cardillo said.
Among the sights Nieman took in during the tour was one favorite: smiles on the faces of the children.

“It left a big impression on me. I left there happy,” Nieman said.

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New York State 
Tribute Foundation

1 South Family Drive
Albany, NY 12205
Phone: 518-452-8230
Fax: 518-452-8667
kelly@nysfda.org