Jane McNeil knows firsthand the impact a tragic loss can have on a child. Orphaned at the age of 13 after losing both of her parents at the same time, she knew right away that Peter’s Place was an organization that she wanted to be a part of. Now in its 15th year, it was the first family grief-support agency of its kind to serve the Main Line area.
“Peter’s Place is an absolute necessity in a community like this,” says McNeil. “Although there’s a lot of affluence here and people may decide to have private therapy, I know from experience that any type of group support is always beneficial because you don’t feel alone. These kids can go there and find themselves in a community where others also have loss. They don’t feel so isolated with their grief.”
McNeil credits Peter’s Place for giving kids and families a place to go and speak freely about their loss and grief. “There should be no shame in losing a parent or a sibling, or any uncomfortable feelings about loss,” she says. “This is something I wish I had.”
McNeil’s work with Peter’s Place began when she volunteered for its 10th-anniversary auction. She’s now a board member. “I chose to be part of smaller charities and nonprofits,” she says. “It’s the little guys that get overlooked. They need people to be loyal and stay.”
McNeil is also involved with the Woodlynde School and Hedgerow Theatre. In addition, she and her husband run the private family organization Lily Foundation, in honor of her mother. Its main mission is to help women and children. “Just because something bad happens to you doesn’t mean you’re entitled to more,” she says. “It means you should be able to see the other side and give back.”