The Tree of Hope is a faith-based organization, which grew out of 1996 meetings of grieving parents who lost their children or significant loved ones to violence. Through these sessions the participants requested the assistance of professional services as well as support and assessments for the children who lost parents. The economically deprived communities experienced a dearth of services when tragedies would occur-basically leaving traumatized families to fend for themselves.

The Tree of Hope was formally established in 2000 to meet the emergency needs of the families who had experienced sudden tragic losses by providing comprehensive assistance spanning bereavement, securing necessary spiritual, financial and emotional support and facilitating linkages with other agencies to provide sustained wrap around services.

Violent deaths have become a national tragedy. In the aftermath of these deaths, grieving families must take care of young children and often attempt to replace what may have been the family’s only source of income. The Tree of Hope identified the need for immediate crisis intervention and began to supply services and support where there was an obvious gap in services. The Tree of Hope also identified that the children for the most part were ignored — “the innocent casualties and forgotten victims” — after the death of the parent, and also that the children experience a range of problems as a result of these tragedies.

Adrienne Young, the founder of the Tree of Hope, was herself witness to such a crisis when her 18 year old son Javon, a student at Carnegie-Mellon University, was senselessly murdered while home for Christmas break in 1994. Young and other parents had to support one another or go outside of the communities to sterile, intrusive settings. The families of the victims agreed we must bridge this gap and have a reciprocal relationship with the service providers and inclusion of the children…hence the Tree of Hope!

The Tree of Hope board of directors is composed of a unique and diverse group of law enforcement officers, licensed psychologists, caseworkers, college professors, clergy, a retired federal agent, area stakeholders, parents who have suffered the loss of their children and the caretakers which foster the children that are the progenies of the victims.

Adrienne Young