The Journey: Chardon Healing Fund

Chardon Healing Fund LogoSince the fund was established in February, the Chardon Healing Fund’s (CHF) mission has not wavered. The mission is to facilitate the long term recovery and healing of the community while addressing the needs of the families directly impacted by the event. The Chardon Healing Fund reserves 100 percent of all donated funds for the benefit of victims, their families, students and the community. The fund has received over $896,538 in donations to date. We are continuing to communicate with all of the victims’ families, and approximately $323,723 has been paid out or committed to the six families or for community-healing efforts.

As directed by the CHF advisory board, the six (6) families directly impacted are receiving 6 months of support to meet their basic living needs. This support has provided them with the opportunity to grieve and handle many unexpected tasks.

Community support has been provided in a variety of ways. The first is in support of the teachers and students from Chardon High School. Within hours following the event, there was extensive clinical counseling support within the schools supplied by numerous mental health agencies. This support continued for days and weeks; hence, the fund was able to recognize these agencies for their unwavering support of our community. Funds from the CHF have also allowed students and teachers to participate in intensive, therapeutic programs outside of school.  In addition, four (4) educational and support sessions were provided to all of the Chardon School educators and staff.

Students have also been supported in their desire to “give back” or “pay it forward.”  Students have requested grant money that will allow them to help other children who are experiencing a traumatic event, by making blankets that can be provided to comfort them.  In addition, the CHF was able to support the efforts to bring a new program to Chardon High School, Actively Caring for People, founded at Virginia Tech. This program works to create a more compassionate, interdependent, and empathic culture within schools, businesses, organizations, and throughout entire communities. By encouraging people to actively care, individuals are inspired to perform intentional acts of kindness as part of their daily routine.  Following the initial visit from Virginia Tech in May, the Chardon High School students have embraced the program and have created an opportunity for school wide engagement. They have been energetically working on a variety of projects over the summer months.

Community healing programs have also taken place since February 27. The Chardon Healing Fund in partnership with the Chardon Schools provided educational and informational sessions for all of those individuals who have students in the district and community members. Together, we held four (4) parent information nights, dealing with issues such as trauma and caring for your child to what forms of alternative healing is available. This has also included a presentation by a nationally recognized trauma expert, Belleruth Naparsek.

It has been recognized that our community could benefit from having local counselors who are trained specifically in providing care to those who have experienced a traumatic event.  Hence, the CHF has committed funding that will allow seven (7) local therapists to participate in and become certified by a national program focused on “Trauma Informed Care.”

As part of our long term strategy, the Chardon Healing Fund has engaged Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management to assist with creating a long term healing plan for our community. This process will include bringing stakeholders together in early fall to begin necessary discussions about the future.

As you can see, the Chardon Healing Fund has seen great success in these past few months; we have been able to provide educational resources for parents and teachers, assisted families who were directly impacted and we will continue to be a conduit of support moving forward.

We would like to take this time to thank everyone that has provided their time, talents and treasure to support of the Chardon Healing Fund. Because of you, we are able to make a difference in our community! 

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kimm Leininger, executive director for United Way Services of Geauga County at 440-285-2261 ext. 222.


Kimm Leininger
Author: Kimm Leininger

Kimm Leininger has served as the Executive Director of United Way Services of Geauga County since 2003. Prior to this, she served as the Executive Director of WomenSafe for five years and as a hospital social worker for three years. Kimm has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University and a Master of Social Work degree from The Ohio State University. She is also an alumnus of Leadership Geauga County, 2002. Kimm currently serves on the boards of the Geauga County P-16 Initiative, Northeast Ohio Regional P-16 Council, Chardon Healing Fund and Chardon Rotary Club. Kimm lives in Geauga County with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, as well as coaching her children in various sporting activities.