The mission of the Solace Tree is that all children, teens and their family members have the freedom to express their feelings associated with death in a safe and loving environment. Our peer support programs and educational opportunities help children and teens learn to cope and adjust to the changes in their lives.
In 2002, while teaching at an elementary school and finishing his Masters degree in school counseling, Emilio Parga discovered he had cancer. He was also assisting students who had lost parents to suicide, accidental death and cancer. In his attempt to provide these children with emotional support, he realized that many kids and teenagers in Northern Nevada had lost a parent, sibling or caregiver throughout the year, and that there were no grief support programs for them. Knowing all too well a child or teen’s need for support when a family member or caregiver dies, Emilio decided there was no time to wait and he created the Solace Tree in 2004.
Today, The Solace Tree serves more than 200 children, 50 teens and their 100 adult family members or caregiver(s) each month. Our 15 open-ended peer support groups meet every other week and are divided by age, type of death (illness, sudden death, homicide, suicide) and who died (parent, sibling, grandparent or friend). Since it was founded in 2004, the Solace Tree has served more than 4,000 children, teens and their families and has received national acclaim for its peer support group model for helping children and teens cope with the death of a family member.
Since then, Emilio has co-founded four other grief centers in Nevada, as well as one in New York, with more planned for the future. He is the author of No Child Should Grieve Alone and four journals written with children for children who have experienced a death, all of which are sold internationally. You’ll Always Be With Me, the Solace Tree documentary he worked on with the local KNPB (the Reno PBS affiliate), was selected as a 2011 Silver Communicator Award winner.
Emilio also serves as an Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, a bereavement consultant to local schools, social service agencies, universities, hospitals and funeral homes, as well as providing in-service credits, trainings and lectures related to children and teens dealing with death. Working as a volunteer for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), he has provided counseling for military families, as well as the families of 9-11 victims. He is also a national speaker for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and he facilitates on-line support groups for the National Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. He is a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC), and the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).
The Solace Tree receives no government funding. We are supported entirely by private donations and professional training fees; and rely on the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations.
The Solace Tree would not exist today without the 100 amazing volunteers and the dozen Solace Angels.