Good Grief Honors 24 Volunteers at Annual Spring Institute

Good Grief Honors 24 Volunteers at Annual Spring Institute

Melissa Parrish Press

Good Grief honored 24 very special volunteers at its annual Spring Institute at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge. Good Grief provides unlimited and free support to children, teens, young adults, and families after the death of a mother, father, sister, or brother through peer support programs, education, and advocacy. Since 2007, Good Grief has grown steadily and rapidly to keep up with the tremendous demand for grief support throughout New Jersey. With centers in both Morristown and Princeton, Good Grief serves over 800 participants with the help of 200 dedicated volunteers.

“This is a group of people who have made a commitment to the next generation of children; a group of people who believes that a good life requires community. I am truly moved and inspired, Good Grief is a better place because of each and every one of you,” Joe Primo, Good Grief CEO, said to the 200 volunteers at the annual event. 10-year honorees from Good Grief’s Morristown center included: Foy Cooley (Chatham), Mary Fleck (Bedminster), Joan Levitt (Chatham), Rachel O’Brien (Morris Plains), Patricia Runkle (Short Hills), and Kate Rutherford (Morristown). 5-year honorees from Good Grief’s Morristown center included: Thomas Agugliaro (Watchung), Jill Canastra (South Orange), Susan Kavett (Morristown), Nina Kramer (Chatham), and Maria McCusker (Morristown),

Good Grief Princeton’s 5-year honorees received special recognition, as 2018 was the first year Princeton volunteers were able to receive this honor. Good Grief expanded its services from Morristown, NJ to Princeton, NJ in 2012. The 5-year honorees from Good Grief’s Princeton center included; Malena Attar (Princeton), Adriane berg (Lebanon), Jon Cosse (West Windsor), Jeanine Cummins (Allentown), Nancy Garza (Cinnaminson), Kathy Maher (Ocean Grove), Jackie Mardikian (Princeton Junction), Corinne Meirowitz (Lawrenceville), Lorrie Quinlan (Monmough Junction), Patty Ryan (Princeton Junction), Richard Ryan (Princeton), Susan Starr (Princeton Junction), and Carol Suarez (Allentown).

The annual Spring Institute brings together volunteers from Morristown and Princeton and serves to build resilience, skills, competency, and community, while maintaining the highest professional standards and outcomes for Good Grief’s services. Justin M. Yopp, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, delivered the keynote address to the volunteers. Dr. Yopp co-leads the Widowed Parent program at UNC and is co-author of “The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life.” He shared insights from starting a grief group for the first time, talked about the unique experience of facilitating a group of grieving fathers, and shared the lessons learned.

After a day of workshops, the Spring Institute concluded with a panel of 3 grieving fathers who are participants at Good Grief. Led by CEO, Joe Primo, and Dr. Yopp, the fathers shared about the experience of losing their wives, how that has redefined fatherhood for them, and how they are able to navigate their grief in a culture of “perceived masculinity.” The panel of participants is always a special treat for the facilitators, giving them insight into the families that they are helping on a weekly basis. Following a standing ovation, Billy, one of the Good Grief Dads asked for the microphone and looked out at the volunteers “We are not the heroes. You guys are the heroes. You really are. We’re here because of what happened to us. You guys choose to be here – for us, and our kids. I could never adequately express my gratitude for all that you do.”

Learn more about upcoming Volunteer Facilitator Trainings and other ways to get involved.


Good Grief is respected as a national leader in delivering grief services to children and their families. It is the leading provider of these services in New Jersey, serving over 1,000 children since its founding in 2004. Good Grief is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unlimited free support to children, teens and families after the death of a parent or sibling. Servicing more than 200 Communities. Good Grief operates centers in Morristown and Princeton. For more information: