The loss of a loved one is devastating, but when it happens to a child, it represents one of life’s most shattering experiences. Thankfully, in Chatham-Kent, Erie St. Clair VON offers the VON Kids’ Circle; a free program that offers a safe space where youth receive the tools and resources they need to cope with their grief.

As one of United Way’s funded programs, the VON Kids’ Circle is a popular stop during the United Way’s Seeing is Believing tour. It’s big, open space is filled with activities that promote healing, children’s art, and a giant tree mural which shares photos of lost loved ones.

“We wanted to create a space where they can relax and be peaceful and help each other through that journey.”

It was here that staff from TekSavvy were moved. They saw firsthand how the room offered peace for the children; but in contrast the families were waiting in the hallway - a very public space that offered little privacy to the parent, guardian or siblings going through complex emotions. They felt the strength to offer these families more, a kind of place where the family can relax, be peaceful and help each other through their journey.


Working with United Way of Chatham-Kent a room next to VON Kids’ Circle was cleared out and TekSavvy did the rest. They built a committee and mobilized a team of staff and volunteers to address the mental health and wellbeing for the whole family during their time of grief. Working with Local businesses like Leon’s and Davos Furniture the committee transformed the once drab storage room into a tranquil space where, families waiting for their appointments can relax, watch TV, play on the computers or tap into the wifi.

When the room was completed, the TekSavvy volunteer committee had the pleasure of meeting Zara, an advocate for the VON Kid’s Circle program and United Way. At the young age of 8, she and her siblings tragically lost their father. Now in her teens, Zara, is open about her emotions about losing a father, her experiences in the VON Kids’ Circle program and her desire to give back to the program that gave her a place share with other children that are going through the same kind of thing. By giving back Zara helps the Program Coordinator with art therapy classes and has wrote about her journey in a book which she sells as a fundraiser for the VON Kid’s Circle program.

“I’m so proud to work for a company like TekSavvy.
Because we have the resources to make such an impact. It touches my heart to know so many people wanting to help.”

~Milinda Chambers,
Community Engagement, TekSavvy


Each year an average of 200 children and teens experiencing a life-threatening illness themselves or that of a loved one receive support from this program funded by United Way of Chatham-Kent.