H.U.G.S. Survivors of Suicide Loss & Community Advocate Testimonials
"After suffering the most devastating loss a parent can experience, Alice has turned that loss into one of the most life affirming, loving and positive programs available. Selflessly opening her heart and her story to the young people at our school year after year, Alice has reached them as no curriculum could. Our students are better prepared to respond effectively when faced with these difficult conversations. " ~ Maryangela Morgan, Counselor - Charlotte Catholic High School
"When I lost my son in Feb of 2013, I literally could not speak. I was surrounded with love and support of my friends but I still felt so alone. Even when people who had lost a child themselves reached out to me, I could not find my voice. I found H.U.G.S. and all that changed the very first night. I finally met others who lost a child due to suicide. I hated that we had to share such a terrible thing in common, but meeting these people at H.U.G.S. was huge in the beginning to my healing. Alice saved my life, and brought my living daughter her mother back. Alice has this way of being extremely warm and kind, and making you feel safe. She offers her time to anyone who needs it even if it means travel for her, or answering late night needs. Her loving personality is perfect because she also can be tough by, when the time is right, encouraging people to start getting back into life, and not forever feel a victim. It is important to be able to do this. Alice has a huge heart and she took her pain and turned it into something to help others. I can honestly say that I don't have the strength to do what she does. H.U.G.S. is so important for people who have lost a loved one to suicide and I will forever be grateful to Alice and HUGS for the rest of my life." ~Melissa Steele, Survivor of Suicide Loss
"In the fall of 2007 my beautiful sister and very best friend Melissa took her life by suicide following her lifelong battle with an eating disorder. I was with her the day she ended her life and came upon the unimaginable. Her death left so many unanswered questions, daily uncontrollable crying, post trauma and what seemed to be deep never-ending grief. Melissa’s family and friends were crippled by the experience as well, making it difficult to for us to support one another."
"6 months following Melissa’s suicide I found myself completely immobilized repeatedly asking myself how I could possibly go on without her. I felt broken and alone in my pain. Thankfully, someone had given me the name of an organization they felt could help me. I reached out to H.U.G.S. (Healing and Understanding of Grief from Suicide), a 501c3 organization that provides free support services to those that have lost a loved one to suicide. H.U.G.S. Founder, Alice McGinley, immediately came to my side with the loving and supportive compassion that only a person that had experienced such a loss could provide. You see, Alice also had experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide, her 16-year-old son Danny. After navigating her way through deep pain Alice made the decision to start providing support to others struggling after the loss of a loved one. From there she went on to start a peer support group program that supports Survivors of Suicide Loss."
"I felt an immediate connection with Alice when I opened my front door to greet her. She displayed empathy and candor while sharing her personal journey. She let me talk. She let me cry. She sat quietly when I could not put my feelings into words. She helped me see hope and encouraged me to slowly begin moving forward. Alice, with strong connections to the counseling community, referred me to a psychologist that she felt would be a good match for me to further work through the post trauma and depression I was experiencing. I joined the H.U.G.S. bi-monthly peer support group where I felt welcome and safe to share my experience and here from others how they were coping." ~Lynn Dreyer-Devens - Survivor of Suicide Loss
"I met Alice McGinley and H.U.G.S. after my boyfriend took his own life in September 2008. I felt abandoned, ashamed, angry, depressed, grief ridden, and traumatized. Suicide is a complicated grief and not just anyone can help a person who felt like I did. Alice was able to affirm my emotions and make me feel normal. She was also able to help me understand my “New Normal: Life without Jonathan.” I attended her group every time the door was open for a solid year. I feel that the group helped me obtain a place of healing and being able to move on with my life in a way that I would not have been able to do on my own or otherwise. I am thankful every day of my life that Alice was there. " ~ Paula J. Yost, JD, LPCA - Chair, Cabarrus County Child Protection & Fatality Team
"Alice McGinley is an exceptional woman. Her guidance has been the driving force leading me through my grief journey with compassion, wisdom and much positivity. She has helped me tremendously by navigating through and understanding what to anticipate from losing a dear friend to suicide. She has an authentic and loving quick wit that has carried me through this process and does an amazing job connecting and constructing a healthy plan moving through tragic circumstances. I am so thankful for her listening intently and tracking fully the whole way through my journey. After every discussion I leave standing taller and stronger with all my questions and concerns acknowledged in a direct decisive way. My path has grown stronger and my joy has returned.
Deb Shumate has had a beautiful impact on me and my grief journey. She has an optimistic and realistic approach that has redirected me to where I should be. The grief from a dear friend's suicide definitely rattled me, but her peaceful and fearless spirit have invoked much self-realization and happiness even in the dark times. She truly understands and is always there to help create healthy ways of coping. I am thankful for the wealth of wisdom and knowledge she has honestly and compassionately shared with me during my grief journey.
The H.U.G.S. group has been life changing for me and my grief journey. I have had tremendous growth through my emotional hardships and I attribute that growth as a direct result of me attending group. Even through the tragedy I have found a rare gift of gratitude and know I am right where I need to be. Our group discussions are so dynamic and helpful, and I love how open and direct Alice and Deb are throughout group meetings. They both truly have a heart for helping others in and through our own unique grief journey. Within each and every group they selflessly share the proper measures to take while getting through challenging circumstances. Both Alice and Deb bring a different and complimentary harmony to our meetings and it has instilled a new resilience within me. I have come to realize that interacting and sharing with Alice, Deb, and H.U.G.S. has been the best threefold system to help me travel through my sorrow and ultimately leading me to a much happier and healthy life." ~ Chapel Cromer
"Alice McGinley is truly an inspirational woman. She has made such a profound impact on my students over the years by discussing the great loss of her son and explaining to my students how important their lives are. For this wonderful woman to get up in front of high school students who are the age her son was when he passed and to tell them the impact his death had on their family, I honestly don't know how she does it with such grace, dignity and conviction. After hearing Alice present it is something you never forget. I thank Alice for sharing her story with my students and myself. It really has a remarkable impact that can be life-changing for so many." ~ Mrs. Patti Uribe - Health Teacher
"I am incredibly honored and humbled to offer this reference without reservation for Alice McGinley and the H.U.G.S. group. I am afraid I cannot do so with a great deal of objectivity because she has become one of my personal heroes due to her courage, love and optimism. I began working with Alice in 2007 while I was employed as the Substance Abuse Prevention Program Manager for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Alice was an active engaged member of the Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition where she always represented the needs of families who struggles with mental health and addictions. Over time, as my role later included the development and delivery of suicide protocol and prevention training for all school counselors I worked closely with Alice to develop meaningful experiential activities. Alice helped providers of social-emotional support to have a first person frame of reference for understanding the importance of detecting depression, intervening on suicidal thinking and providing support to bereft families. Since I have worked in Cabarrus County Schools Alice has been a resource to families in need at what is their hour or greatest need. She has been responsive and made herself available to meet the needs of individuals, families and communities. Please accept the highest reference I can offer for Alice McGinley. Here is a person who has taken the darkest moment of any person’s life and transformed that pain into a mission to love, serve and heal. If you have any further questions please contact me (704.262.6143). It will be my privilege to speak with you about Alice’s work." ~ John A. Basilice, Director of Student Services Cabarrus County Schools
H.U.G.S. is a nonprofit community outreach program for those who have lost a family member or friend to suicide.