Cleveland’s Own: Cornerstone of Hope

In this month’s edition of Fox 8’s Cleveland’s Own, Matt Kaulig meets with Mark Tripodi from Cornerstone of Hope.

Cornerstone of Hope is a comprehensive bereavement support center dedicated to providing support, education, and hope for grieving children, teens, and adults. Cornerstone of Hope is dedicated to providing support, education, and hope for the grieving. Guided by Christian values of compassion and service, we welcome and serve all seeking support.

In 2000, Mark and Christi Tripodi rushed their only son, Bobby, to the emergency room with a high fever. Though we knew something was wrong, both expected it to be only a matter of hours until they were home again. Unfortunately, they did not come home until the following evening, and they did so without their son. Bobby died from bacterial meningitis at the age of three years old. Soon after, they started attending a hospital support group. And while they desperately needed those monthly meetings, the gatherings were not enough. They needed more support during the initial shock of grief. They were emotionally and spiritually drained with no real hope. They had to seek financial support from their family due to the drastic cost of counseling. After their devastating loss, they felt called to do something more; they wanted families like their own to have access to grief care, regardless of their finances. They began to investigate other grief centers and found organizations around the country dedicated to bereavement care.

Through their research, their vision for Cornerstone of Hope emerged. They felt called to establish a bereavement care center to provide professionally-led grief support for children, teens, and adults. The healing campus in Cleveland (Independence) features therapy rooms and art rooms specifically designed for children and families, as well as a therapeutic treehouse that was featured on the television series Treehouse Masters. Mark and Christi’s hope was to turn their pain into purpose and give others who are grieving the opportunity to heal. 

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own is about good people doing good work in Northeast Ohio. WJW Fox 8 and Kaulig Charitable Giving Programs team up to celebrate Cleveland’s Own by highlighting the best of our region in a big way! Each month, Fox 8’s Stefani Schaefer and Kaulig Companies and LeafFilter Executive Chairman Matt Kaulig, share a story about a person or organization from Northeast Ohio doing good work.

To see more Cleveland’s Own stories, or to nominate an organization to be featured, visit Kaulig Giving’s Cleveland’s Own page.

Read the Transcript

Stefani Schaefer

Each month, Kaulig Giving and Fox 8 will highlight people, organizations, and charities making a difference in Northeast Ohio. It's time to celebrate Cleveland's Own.

Matt Kaulig

Hi, I'm Matt Kaulig. This month on Cleveland's Own we hear from Blessing Health. This faith-based organization helps Northeast Ohio families in crisis by providing shelter for children and much-needed support for families since 2005. Let's hear from Sister Mary and Donna from Blessing House.

Mark Tripodi

Well, I can't wait to show you around, but before I do that, it's been personal for my wife and I. My wife, Christi, and I, unfortunately, lost a child many years ago. It was just through that life experience of losing a loved one, our three-year-old son, suddenly that somehow got a hold of us and wanted us to transform that pain into purpose, that suffering in the meaning.

Chrisi Tripodi

And we really had nowhere to turn. And so, there were so many services that we need, and we couldn't find any in the community that served us well. And so we needed to make this place what we would have so desperately needed after the death of our son.

Mark Tripodi

Truly at the heart of any mission is our programs and services, counseling, art therapy, social workers, and a wide range of support groups, too. Licensed professionals are facilitating and leading those programs. We separate, not just by age group, but by type of loss. When they come to Cornerstone Of Hope, they recognize and realize right away my gosh, I'm not alone. There's a room full of people that have been through what we've been through. And so that's very comforting for families that come in.

Matt Kaulig

All right. So what room are we in? I see. It's called an art room. So what goes on in here?

Mark Tripodi

So it's all about entering the kids' or that teens' world of creativity and play. So we'll get clay, we tell them to make a grief monster.

Matt Kaulig

Oh, okay.

Mark Tripodi

All right. So they make this vicious monster with horns and fangs and things like that. We fire it in a kiln. They paint it, give it a name, and we have them crush it!

Matt Kaulig

Oh, really?

Mark Tripodi

Just shatter it. And we just tell them like you gotta encounter your grief. That monster is not gonna go away until you encounter it and really face it face to face. And hopefully, really put them on a path of hope and healing. One of the things we do is with these feelings masks. We'll ask them, paint the outside. What do you show your teacher? And then we'll get into on the second night, what do you battle inside? What's that look like? What's it feel like in here?

Mark Tripodi

Given them an avenue to take the attention off themselves and not even be looking at the counselor. But they're talking about their masterpiece. And that helps them explain their grief a little bit more.

Chrisi Tripodi

People need to deal with those holes, those aches, those pains that are so debilitating. And people need to know that there is a place that's safe when the world wants to tell them they should be feeling better. That's not the reality of grief and death. It is truly debilitating and takes years to get stronger. And so for me, Cornerstone is a place where that can happen. And the people that have come here and the people that we have served are better because of it when they leave.

Matt Kaulig

So we're inside this amazing house and we're up in trees! I mean, what is this place?

Mark Tripodi

So this is the Lisa's Butterfly Treehouse in memory and honor of Lisa Luciano Kurtz and this was actually featured on Animal Planet's Treehouse Masters back in 2014, and it's an extension of the main building that I just showed you.

Matt Kaulig

So, Mark, how can Fox 8 viewers get more involved with Cornerstone Hope?

Mark Tripodi

We're always in need of volunteers. So if you feel called to give a gift of your time but also your financial support.

Matt Kaulig

To learn more about Cornerstone of Hope and how you can help support a world where no grieving person journeys alone visit Cornerstoneofhope.org. To nominate a person or organization for an upcoming episode of Cleveland's Own, visit Kauliggiving.com/clevelandsown. Make it a great day!