How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
Three. Vincent (20), Andrea (18), and Gianni (forever 4 – Gianni died in 2010).
What are your favorite family activities in the area?
My husband, Jack DiTeodoro, a family physician in Stamford, and I love watching our kids do anything. When our kids were younger we spent a lot of time in Chestnut Hill Park, a public family park in North Stamford, and it still holds special memories for us.
As the kids were growing up we enjoyed participating in all of their activities – it’s impossible to pick a favorite: North Stamford Little League, Stamford Youth Basketball, Stamford Peace, Stamford Youngtimers, Arena Gymnastics, Center Stage Dance, CT Elite FH and St. Luke’s sports – all great experiences!
What do you like about living in the area?
This area is home to me and wonderfully supportive. I am originally from Stamford, as I was born and raised in Waterside and North Stamford. We lived in North Stamford as a family for almost 20 years. We moved to New Canaan in 2020, and I love it here too. I am so lucky to live in such beautiful places.
Tell us about your role at Family Centers?
I have been a volunteer at Family Centers for several years as a facilitator with The Den for Grieving Kids. I’ve facilitated both the Child Loss Evening Den Group for parents and the School-Based Den for kids. I started volunteering in the schools when my own kids were in middle school, so my early efforts were focused on Stamford Middle Schools.
What is the Den for Grieving Kids?
The Den for Grieving Kids is a grief and bereavement support program for children and families run through Family Centers. The Den holds evening family programming in Greenwich and supports students in schools throughout the county at no cost to participants. Grief groups are led by two Den-trained volunteer facilitators and provide participants with the opportunity to talk about the unique experience of bereavement and the loss of a person within the family unit. It is particularly important for children and adults coping with grief that is profound, complicated, and potentially isolating to see and know that they are not alone in their grief. I found the Den to be very helpful when dealing with the loss of our beloved son and know that it continues to provide this important service in our community.
How important are volunteers to this program?
Volunteers are essential to the program, partially because the need is so great, particularly in the school-based programs. Children and young adults may want and need the opportunity to express how a death has changed their life, but don’t want to place any additional stress on their family—the school-based Den gives them the opportunity to express themselves with their peers and navigate their grief in a supported environment. The relief and gratitude that the children share when they are able to express their grief with others is extraordinary and it is an honor to participate in that healing.
How can people get involved if they’d like to volunteer?
The Den supports its volunteers with regular training, and provides weekly activities for engaging with kids, along with topics and prompts for discussion. Volunteers don’t need any particular background or experience. All you really need is an hour and the willingness to participate in your community. Please reach out to Tyler Shanafelt, [email protected] if you would like to help make a difference!
How do you balance work and mommyhood?
My children, who are recent graduates of St. Luke’s School are now in college so the balance has changed dramatically, and my volunteer efforts have had to change as well to accommodate the shift in schedule. The Den has allowed me to grow and find a balance with my mom duties. Volunteering helps me honor my youngest son Gianni who died in 2010, who I am able to keep front-of-mind as I work with kids and families managing their own grief.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
My mom always says you cannot spoil a child with too much love – give them all the love you’ve got.