IMPACT Awards, presented by the Red Sox Foundation and the Ruderman Family Foundation, support organizations raising awareness and improving outcomes surrounding mental health

BOSTON — The Center for Grieving Children on Wednesday night received the $10,000 first-place award in Maine as part of the eighth annual IMPACT Awards, a joint initiative of the Red Sox Foundation and the Ruderman Family Foundation, which for the third consecutive year is continuing its mission to support organizations that have demonstrated a deep impact in raising awareness and improving the mental health outcomes in their community.

One of 18 winners across six states in New England, the Center for Grieving Children serves nearly 3,000 bereaved children, teens, families, and young adults annually through peer support, outreach, and education. Founded in 1987 by Portland resident Bill Hemmens following the death of his sister who left behind his niece Erin, he recognized that children need peers and caring adults to support them through their grief because death profoundly affects every aspect of their lives.

The IMPACT Awards gives Red Sox fans the opportunity to nominate their favorite non-profits to receive support and funding. Through a $125,000 grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation, the awards provide the winning non-profits with either a first-place $10,000 grant, second-place $3,000 grant, or a third-place $2,000 grant. Eligible organizations with the most online votes from fans were the designated winners, with three non-profits selected from each New England state.

Winners of the 2022 IMPACT Awards with, from left, Fenway Sports Group Partner Linda Pizzuti Henry, Red Sox Foundation Honorary Chairman Tim Wakefield, Red Sox Foundation Executive Director Bekah Salwasser and Ruderman Family Foundation Deputy Director Dr. Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim. (Courtesy of Rachel O’Driscoll/Boston Red Sox)

Anne Heros, executive director at the Center for Grieving Children, said, “During a time when life can feel so chaotic, the Center for Grieving Children appreciates deeply that the Red Sox IMPACT Award prioritizes organizations improving the mental health of young adults across New England communities. We are so honored to be this year’s Maine recipient; a reminder of the important work we do and will keep doing. Such generous support allows for Center services to remain at no cost to families, for as long as they’re needed.”

The second-place winner in Maine is Sweetser, a nonprofit community mental health provider with a statewide network of care offering services to people of all ages in mental and behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, recovery, and education and the third-place winner is The Northern Lighthouse Inc., an outpatient therapy provider with 12 certified therapists that has provided care for adults and children with mental and behavioral disabilities for the past 15 years.

The winners were recognized in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park on Wednesday, receiving their awards on the field alongside Ruderman Family Foundation Deputy Director Dr. Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim, Fenway Sports Group Partner and Boston Globe Media CEO Linda Pizzuti Henry, Red Sox Foundation Honorary Chairman Tim Wakefield, and Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President of Social Impact and Red Sox Foundation Executive Director Bekah Salwasser.

“Mental health continues to be an ever-growing epidemic, accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are delighted to once again be partnering with the Red Sox Foundation on our annual IMPACT Awards as we look to address and normalize the stigma associated with mental health across society throughout New England and beyond,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Each one of this year’s IMPACT Awards winners have shown their commitment to carry out this important mission within their communities, and in recognizing and supporting these efforts, we hope others will be inspired to do the same.”

June 15, 2022, Boston, MA: Impact Award recipients pose for a photo ahead of a game between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (Photo by Rachel O’Driscoll/Boston Red Sox)

Red Sox fans had the opportunity to nominate a non-profit in the mental health space from April 7-20. After the finalists were named on May 2, online voting took place until May 31. 

“Our society is facing a mental health epidemic that has only been exacerbated by the events of the past two years,” said Red Sox Foundation Executive Director Bekah Salwasser. “To help tackle this growing issue, we’ve partnered with the Ruderman Family Foundation for the third year in a row to deliver our IMPACT Award grants to organizations who are doing incredible work in the mental health space. This year’s awardees are out in their respective communities every day deploying resources and improving outcomes. We are proud to honor their work and to raise awareness for this critically important issue and to help fund the organizations who are on the front lines combating it.”

Last month, the Red Sox Foundation and Ruderman Family Foundation together pledged support to combat the stigma surrounding mental health in sports. At a panel discussion on May 2, the foundations recognized the continuing mental health crisis and the unique platform the sports industry has to raise awareness and reduce mental health stigma. The event included opening remarks by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy, and Vice President and MLB Special Assistant to the Commissioner Billy Bean.