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Comfort Zone Camp: Boston Office

 6606 W. Broad Street, Suite 401
 Richmond, VA 23220
[P] (804) 377-3430
[F] (804) 377-3433
Sue Oppici
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 54-1916517

LAST UPDATED: 01/04/2019
Organization DBA Comfort Zone
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

Comfort Zone Camp's mission is "to provide grieving children with a voice, a place and a community in which to heal, grow and lead more fulfilling lives."

Mission Statement

Comfort Zone Camp's mission is "to provide grieving children with a voice, a place and a community in which to heal, grow and lead more fulfilling lives."

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $2,833,395.00
Projected Expense $2,405,843.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Holiday Program
  • One Day Family Program
  • Weekend Bereavement Camp Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Comfort Zone Camp's mission is "to provide grieving children with a voice, a place and a community in which to heal, grow and lead more fulfilling lives."

Background Statement

Founded in 1998 in Richmond, VA, Comfort Zone offers free grief resources, resilience training and ongoing support to children who have suffered the loss of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. Our programs focus on the strengths of each child, empowering them to grieve, heal and grow in healthy ways. To do this, we implement a number of child-focused strategies. First, we offer age-based support groups that address grief according to each child’s developmental stage. Second, we provide children with individual mentors whose purpose is to set children up for success as they learn to manage their grief. Third, we offer services in a fun, safe, camp environment that helps remove the stresses of daily life. Fourth, we offer ongoing support so that children may continue to adopt new coping strategies as they grow into young adults. Comfort Zone serves children from across the nation at locations in Virginia, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and through collaborative partnerships that fund Comfort Zone camps in additional communities.

Impact Statement

In 2015, Comfort Zone directly served 1,408 children (9.7% increase over 2014), trained 592 more advocates. Not only did these children learn that they were not alone by connecting with other children who experienced the death of a loved one, the transformational impact of our therapeutic model yielded great results:

- 93% created a connection.

- 89% shared during the weekend.

- 82% learned how to define grief.

These results show that Comfort Zone is able to create civic connections for youth experiencing our therapeutic program model. While family is the central force in any child's life, civic connection can and will increase a bereaved child's sense of belonging to a wider world and feeling of being safe within it. As a result there were able to share their grief and build a deeper connection. By also defining grief, they can seek to understand what they are experiencing and gain control over a situation they might feel they have no control. All of these aspects build on their competency and their ability to seek and adapt positive coping skills.

This past December we also piloted a new Holiday Program that was featured on The Today Show. This one day program free program brings families who have experienced a parent or child loss together to learn fun, safe and creative ways to honor their loved ones during the holiday season through dynamic activities. The focus of the day is to create a space for families to share together, acknowledge their grief, express creativity, honor past family traditions and make new ones, and promote self-care.

Our goals for 2016 include expanding the piloting of the Holiday Program to four locations across the country, including in the Northeast. Comfort Zone will hold two 3-day camps for children and youth aged 7-17 and one 3-day camp for young adults (18-24) in Massachusetts. Each camp will serve approximately 60 persons. We will also hold two volunteer trainings and a 5K fundraiser.


Needs Statement

All of our programs are offered free of charge.  To accommodate the free price tag of our programs, financial donations and volunteers top our list of most pressing needs.  

$55,000: 1 weekend camp program for up to 60-65 children.

$35,000: Volunteer screening and training costs for 1 full year.

$25,000: 1 day camp for up to 40 children and their parents.

$17,000: Facility rental for one 3-day camp

$10,000: Camper giveaways (t-shirts, theme pins, etc.) for 1 camp location for 1 year.

$5,000: Professional therapeutic services for 10 children.

$2,500: 25 camp application screenings.

$1,000: Travel scholarship and parent lodging for 1 camper/parent.

$500: The cost of sending one child to camp.

VOLUNTEER SUPPORT: Volunteers are the backbone of our operations, at least 80 are used for each 3-day camp program. In addition to the 15-20 volunteers that help each camp run smoothly, all campers are paired 1:1 with volunteer mentors (Big Buddies) throughout the entire camp weekend (approximately 65 per camp). Many buddies suffered the loss of a parent or sibling as a child and enrich the camper's experience through the sharing of their own grief journey. All volunteers receive 6 hours of training, and are thoroughly screened prior to camp.
CZC owns and operates the online community and bereavement resource, allowing us to provide a place, a voice and a community to bereaved people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. $5,000 covers the maintenance and upkeep of this web site for one year.

CEO Statement

It is not uncommon for the people who work for a nonprofit to believe in its mission, and I can say without a doubt that everyone at Comfort Zone puts their heart and soul into our mission. What delights me on a daily basis is the way the local communities in which we offer our services come forward to fill the approximately 2,500 volunteer opportunities we offer annually.  Our 1:1 camper/volunteer pairings in our Little Buddy/Big Buddy mentor program are what separate Comfort Zone Camp from all other bereavement programs. Campers often come to camp starved for attention because their families are consumed with handling their own grief, and the 1:1 pairing provides a dedicated friend and "safe haven" for each camper. Many of our volunteers also suffered the loss of a loved one as a child and are able to add a unique element to the camper's experience through the sharing of their own grief journey.   The matching process happens prior to camp, after campers and volunteers are thoroughly screened. Matches are based on compatibility of personality, grief experience, hobbies and cultural backgrounds. The impact of this mentor relationship on campers is significant, and over the last decade many of our previous campers have returned to camp in a volunteer capacity to give back the support they received as grieving children.

Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

There are no geographical restrictions on our camps. Children are admitted from the entire United States and beyond. Camps are currently offered year round in Massachusetts, California, New Jersey and Virginia, and annually in select locations across the country. When possible, Comfort Zone does offer travel scholarships and, when warranted, parent/guardian lodging.

Organization Categories

  1. Human Services - Children's and Youth Services
  2. Mental Health & Crisis Intervention - Counseling
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Holiday Program

Comfort Zone piloted a one-day Holiday Program in December, 2015 to great success. The program was featured on the Today Show with a family who participated in the holiday program. The new free holiday program brings families together to learn fun, safe and creative ways to honor their loved ones during the holiday season through dynamic activities. This opportunity is designed for children, teens, parents and guardians -- the entire family. The focus of the day is to create a space for families to share together, acknowledge their grief, express creativity, honor past family traditions and make new ones, and promote self-care.

Budget  $7,250.00
Category  Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Grief Counseling
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  For outcome measures, we asked the following questions for the holiday program and have listed the results below from the December pilot:
The program was helpful for me - 91.4% said it was
I would recommend this program to another person - 91.4% said they would
Big Buddy Share showed me how to express my emotions around the holidays - 74.3% said it did
I made a connection with another person today - 94.2% said they did

Program Long-Term Success  As a brand new program, Comfort Zone will see long-term success as it becoming a standard offering in each of our regions annually and having the financial resources to provide the program for free. 
Program Success Monitored By  We will continue to ask outcome measure questions after each program. Once we have held the program in each region we will evaluate the model and determine what changes need to be made. 
Examples of Program Success  We also collect quotes from participants. Here are some from the pilot in December:
"What a wonderful day. The work I have seen Comfort Zone do to help my granddaughter is amazing and much appreciated. Can't thank you enough and I hope all children learn about Comfort Zone should there ever be a need."
"This is a great opportunity for families to come together with other families that understand the struggle around the holidays. It is a place for people to share old/new traditions and it is ok that things are different."
"Felt very connected to group and got to see how my girls "act" at camp. Huge connection with my girls. Very bonding experience."
"Just what I needed to refresh during the stressful holiday season. Thank you for hours of distraction from my stresses."

When our participants walk away with feelings and comments like this, we know we have succeeded.

One Day Family Program

The Family Program provides 20-30 grieving children and their parents/guardians with a comprehensive bereavement program designed to create resilient youth and supportive families. The Family Program has concurrent guardian and child programming, allowing each to receive education, peer support, and development of coping skills. Parents are strongly encouraged/expected to attend the program, which happens concurrent to the 1-day program their child(ren) attend. Similar to the three-day program, 8-12 weeks of preparation includes family intake and training volunteers/pulling existing volunteers. The Parent Program content has a psycho-educational component to it and also serves as a support group at times. This blend offers them knowledge, an opportunity for connection, as well as an experience. This program model is great to use in a new market while trying to create and build community awareness. This program model also fits well for specific loss type camps (e.g. suicide).
Budget  $26,100.00
Category  Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Grief Counseling
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

· Hearing the community using Comfort Zone terminology

· Obtaining more referral agents

· Numbers – this is not always the same number and can be determined by the community served, partner-specific parameters, and/or Comfort Zone.

· Watching families leave with CZC fliers, sign up for future camps, etc.

· Knowing that families leave their Comfort Zone experience feeling good and self aware.

Program Long-Term Success  Long term success of the one day programs is that Comfort Zone is able to build upon them and develop more three day programs, support groups, Grief Summits, and Holiday Programs. A one day program can be less intimidating for participants and can be a first step towards a long term relationship with Comfort Zone.
Program Success Monitored By  All participants are provided with post-program evaluations that is both quantitative and qualitative. We also follow-up with families afterwards and learn of the changes that parents/guardians observe in their children and youth as a result of the program. 
Examples of Program Success  We collect feedback after each program. One Big Buddy described the intense bonding at camp this way: “You walk in complete strangers, and you walk out feeling like family.”  One seventeen-year-old camper, who has attended camp every year since she was twelve, notes that the program “help[s] me grow every single time…. I continuously heal and learn and grow.” These positive changes continue afterward, as the guardian of several children reports: “I have teenage boys and there isn’t much that they feel connected to these days but every year, without fail, Comfort Zone is something they look forward to and are eager to attend. Every year, I notice they grow a little more due to this camp.”

Weekend Bereavement Camp Program

Comfort Zone provides children who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling with free professional mental health services, peer and mentor support, and skills that will enable positive development as they grow. To achieve this we offer weekend bereavement camps for children ages 7-17.

Each camp program hosts approximately 60 campers and 80 volunteers. In preparation for each camp, Comfort Zone staff spends 8-10 weeks screening up to 100 applicants, interviewing parents and any others (teachers, coaches, counselors) who may have insight into each child’s loss experience to determine each child’s readiness to participate. This process identifies and minimizes barriers to success and ensures the needs of each child are at the core of all of our work. Volunteers are also screened and trained during this time; all campers are paired 1:1 with volunteer mentors throughout the entire program weekend in a "Little Buddy/Big Buddy" system.

Mentors are matched to their campers based on each camper’s individual needs and the mentor’s ability to meet those needs. Our mentor program is a vital part of the success of our campers. Children often come to camp starved for attention because surviving family members are managing their own grief, and are challenged to meet the individual needs of their children. The 1:1 Comfort Zone pairing model provides campers with a dedicated ear, friend, champion and anchor.

With their mentors by their sides, campers quickly discover three things at camp – they are not alone in their experiences, sharing their story helps them heal, and it’s ok to have fun. These discoveries break through the emotional barriers children build after loss, and ready campers for the clinical components of our program, which include age-based support groups (facilitated by trained grief professionals), and age-appropriate, individualized coping skills children can utilize in their daily lives. 

After camp, children and their families may continue to access resources and receive (or lend) ongoing support through our support groups and our secure online community,

Budget  $55,000.00
Category  Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Grief Counseling
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) Children Only (5 - 14 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  When children come to camp and find themselves surrounded by peers who can personally understand what they are going through, they experience an immediate emotional lift. This lift, paired with the confidence and trust building activities, readies campers to participate in the clinical portion of our program, in which they attend age-based group counseling and learn age-appropriate coping skills for managing their grief.
Program Long-Term Success  Children are taught individualized, healthy coping skills to manage their grief, and are provided with an ongoing support network and multiple opportunites to address grief episodes as they arise. Children may return to camp once per year until they graduate high school, and may stay connected to their camp community throughout the year on .
Program Success Monitored By  Programmatically, our primary objective is to break the emotional isolation children experience after the death of a parent or sibling and provide them with healthy coping tools that will equip them to manage their grief at school and at home. To prepare, CZC utilizes a pre-camp quality of life assessment survey that helps us understand both the family and child’s needs before coming to camp. Each of our camp programs are evaluated by a volunteer panel of mental health professionals who conference monthly on our behalf. Qualitatively, camp personnel monitor information derived from the large number of post-camp e-mails and correspondence received from campers, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches and others close to the children. These communications are overwhelmingly positive, cite noticeable changes in campers’ attitudes and behaviors post camp and provide meaningful insight into the children’s experience and their emotional growth following their camp experience.
Examples of Program Success  GRIEF COUNSELOR TESTIMONIALS "I have seen kids grow and learn more in two and a half days at camp than many months of individual therapy." – Allison Twente, Ph.D., Westhampton Family Psychologists, LCSW, Founder, Grief Resource Center"You've accomplished far more in a weekend with many of your kids than is possible in many months of certainly individual therapy and even traditional group therapy." Hermann Witte, PhD, Clinical Psychology   CAMPER TESTIMONIALS"I didn't like to talk about my father's death. When I went to Comfort Zone, they helped me. Now I love talking about my Dad." Reba, 9"Each camp makes me feel like my soul has taken a shower. My loss had been the mud puddle and Comfort Zone helps clean it off." Tyler, 12"Nobody understands until I get to camp, where EVERYONE understands." David, 12"It was the first place I felt safe and happy after my dad died." Sarah, 17

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Mary Beth McIntire
CEO Term Start Dec 2013
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Mary Beth McIntire offers over 20 years of experience in the world of nonprofit management.    

Mary Beth has served a number of nonprofits organizations in the central Virginia area, including the Library of Virginia Foundation (executive director), United Way of Greater Richmond (assistant vice president) and Aylett Country Day School (director of development). She also understands the importance of giving back to the community. She currently serves on the board of directors of Shirley Plantation Foundation and The Cornerstone Community Development Center (Aylett, VA). Previously, she served on the boards of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence – Partnership Council, the Association for Fundraising Professionals, James River Writers, and Aylett County Day School.

Mary Beth holds a B.A. from James Madison University and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She and her husband, Rob have two daughters, Jordan and Caitlin.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Mendi Nieters VP Development --
Mr. Pete Shrock VP Strategy and Design --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 19
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 2,000
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 20
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 19
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Quarterly
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Quarterly


Board Chair Mr. Rick Long
Board Chair Company Affiliation Cigna
Board Chair Term Jan 2015 - Dec 2016
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Steven Brown Isler Dare Voting
Jill Coleman The Cameron Foundation Voting
Toni Cook AECOM Technologies Voting
Melina Davis-Martin Medical Society of Virginia Voting
Robert Delonti Torrance Unified School District Voting
Carla Harris PwC, LLP Voting
Ryan Kuester GHT Insurance Agency Voting
Angie Kyle New York Life - Insurance Group Voting
Mitti Liebersohn Jones Lang LaSalle Voting
Rick Long Cigna Voting
Chris Mooney University of Richmond Voting
Don Mosman Wells Fargo Advisors Voting
Sue Paternoster Wilton Voting
Todd Purich LEGACYpsc, LLC --
Elizabeth Sullivan VCU Healthsystem Voting
Dan Tarantin Harris Research, Inc. Voting
Paul Thompson RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen Voting
Allison Twente Westhampton Family Practice Voting
Andrew Weinman Riverstone Group, LLC Voting
Christine Williams DuretteCrump Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 18
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 20%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Audit
  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Program / Program Planning

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $2,715,494 $2,303,242 $2,804,987
Total Expenses $3,283,158 $2,621,225 $2,600,950

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$635,483 $225,250 $110,869
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $1,442,173 $1,564,942 $1,933,159
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $27,129 $25,088 $23,374
Investment Income, Net of Losses $4,086 $-2,953 $10,026
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $343,253 $262,439 $454,011
Revenue In-Kind $258,393 $220,970 $263,996
Other $4,977 $7,506 $9,552

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $2,335,395 $2,140,210 $2,183,908
Administration Expense $307,488 $176,353 $175,547
Fundraising Expense $640,275 $304,662 $241,496
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.83 0.88 1.08
Program Expense/Total Expenses 71% 82% 84%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 26% 15% 10%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $996,062 $1,221,541 $1,580,728
Current Assets $412,026 $585,787 $1,166,226
Long-Term Liabilities $7,177 $16,801 $18,548
Current Liabilities $391,525 $39,716 $79,173
Total Net Assets $597,360 $1,165,024 $1,483,007

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? 0.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 1.05 14.75 14.73

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 1% 1% 1%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Please note Comfort Zone Camp is moving from a January - December fiscal year to a July - June fiscal year. To make this adjustment, we will be doing an 18 month fiscal year and audit for January, 2015 - June, 2016. Also, as part of Comfort Zone's financial planning, we are working towards having a reserve of three months by 2018.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs are per the organization's audited financials and reflect the organization's national operations.  


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

The goal of Comfort Zone Camp's programs are to:

1) break the severe emotional isolation children experience after the loss of a family member.

2) Provide children with free, professional therapeutic services and healthy coping skills for managing grief in healthy ways home, at school and in the community.
3) Create and grow a nationwide community of advocates who are prepared to provide a coordinated response for children who have experienced the death of an immediate family member.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

To meet our goals, Comfort Zone provides free, therapeutic programs and services to children from across the country at permanent locations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and California; and, at additional locations across the country in partnership with organizations who support our mission. These therapeutic programs are based in the positive youth development model and are designed and sequenced to connect children and youth to a community of peers and mentors who personally understand their loss and grief experiences, to build the resiliency of program participants using the tenets of the positive youth development model, and to equip and empower children to manage their grief in healthy ways. 

Comfort Zone is also working to facilitate Community Grief Summits in each of the regions it serves. This community program is designed to bring together families living with grief, community members, grief professionals, educators and others to create a greater understanding of the tremendous and ongoing effect grief has on children, and to help move communities towards a more coordinated continuum of care for children after the death of an immediate family member.  

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Some of what distinguishes Comfort Zone Camp from other bereavement programs and traditional therapeutic offerings include:


Many bereavement camp programs in the United States are one-time offerings provided by non-bereavement organizations, and there is little opportunity to maintain the community formed while at camp. Comfort Zone provides a strong program and a peer community from which campers may draw support (or to which they may lend support) as issues arise throughout their entire grief journey.


The Comfort Zone camp program is free to all children, regardless of economic background. For children from low income/disadvantaged families and for whom the costs of travel would prohibit attendance, travel scholarships and parent lodging during camp may be available.


The Comfort Zone program was specifically designed with the input of children's grief therapists to empower children in the midst of their grief and to address grief according to how children actually grieve, which is a very different process from how adults grieve.


Each Comfort Zone weekend camp has approximately 60-70 campers, and campers are paired 1:1 with trained volunteers in a "Little Buddy/Big Buddy" system. The 1:1 pairing model provides a dedicated mentor, friend and "anchor" for each camper. Many Comfort Zone volunteer Big Buddies also suffered the loss of a loved one as a child and are able to add a unique element to the camper's experience through the sharing of their own grief journey. The matching process happens prior to camp, after campers and volunteers are thoroughly screened. Matches are based on compatibility of personality, grief experience, hobbies and cultural backgrounds.


Children often feel like they are totally alone and that no one could possibly understand them after a parent or sibling death. Comfort Zone creates multiple opportunities for children to meet others who are healing from the same specific type of loss, either through their Big Buddy match or through their Healing Circles. This matching process truly helps children realize that they are not alone - a very important revelation in a child's grief journey.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

Comfort Zone has three themes to our planned goals: program, branding, and sustainability.

Program: Increase the number of children and young adults reached annually to 1,400. The steps we will take to reach this goal is to expand the Virginia support group model to each region; expand the young adult camp program by adding it in Massachusetts; develop and execute a camper outreach plan in each region; expand the partnership program to add at least one new partner and to formalize the partnership program; and develop a curriculum for a parent/guardian-only program. Number of participants are tracked via a centralized database. Progress on each objective will be reported quarterly at staff meetings. We will also explore research partners and funding opportunities to fund a comprehensive program evaluation plan.

Branding: Overall we want to analyze the national brand of Comfort Zone and work to become the national leader in addressing childhood grief and elevating the issue of childhood grief to a national dialogue. Steps we will take will include brand research and focus groups; identify opportunities for national exposure and develop a media kit; launch a new Comfort Zone website and relaunch; and work towards having a national high profile spokesperson. Measures will include clicks on both websites, requests for national interviews, and participation at regional and national conferences. We will work towards developing a measure to track public awareness of Comfort Zone (such as emails, phone surveys, ad clicks, etc.).

Sustainability: Comfort Zone will continue to build our fund reserve to support increases in programming and branding opportunities and create a cash reserve of at least three months (in three years). In 2016, we will track donations (increase to $460,000), corporate giving (increase to $600,000), and grants requested and received (increase to $300,000). This will be done through using a new database to track donors, volunteers, and clients; improve internal infrastructure to encourage all staff and volunteers to participate in cultivation; and provide training to development staff to enhance their cultivation and writing skills.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Since its founding in 1998, Comfort Zone has worked steadily to build a community of donors, foundations, and volunteers to sustain our efforts. Our 2014 revenue was 15% over that of 2013, and we we successfully had a similar increase in 2015. Over the last two years, our staff and volunteers have worked to design, build, grow, and create more opportunities for the community to make a lasting impact through Comfort Zone. To this end we now have more partnerships, more leadership volunteer opportunities, and better education-based donor stewardship. Comfort Zone has increased our Twitter followers by 20%, and those accessing our resources on by 15%. Currently we have almost 10,500 likes on Facebook (an over 20% increase).

Our future goals are detailed under question #4. Again, we are focusing on expanding our reach to program participants and the public in general; enhance our financial sustainability; and enter into research partnerships to expand our current program evaluation methods to be more research-based.