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Local Employer Receives Award for Acts of Compassion


March 09, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - The University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus has been honored by The Compassionate Friends as a recipient of the Compassionate Employer Recognition award.

The Compassionate Friends is the world's largest self-help bereavement organization, providing friendship, understanding and hope to families that have experienced the death of a child. For 2006, 65 employers across the country and Puerto Rico are receiving Compassionate Employer Recognition for going above and beyond the normal policies of most companies in helping an employee after the death of a child.

UAS Ketchikan employee Karen Pitcher nominated the campus after the unexpected death of her son, Seming "Sam" Pitcher. Her nomination stated that "My co-workers immediately offered support. I was made to feel that I could take as much time off from my job (as an administrative clerk) as I needed. In addition to cards and food, co-workers made significant financial donations which went partially to offset burial expenses and also to help establish The Sam Pitcher Memorial Music Scholarship Fund. UAS Chancellor John Pugh authorized that the Ketchikan Campus be closed the afternoon of the funeral so that employees could attend. I feel the University couldn't have been more supportive and has continued to be sympathetic and supportive to me in these years following the death of my son."

"When you work in a small organization you become like family," said Interim Campus Director Cathy LeCompte. She added, "We are really honored that Compassionate Friends recognized us for something we would do for any one of our co-workers. It just seemed natural and the only thing to do."

Criteria for Compassionate Employer Recognition include, but are not limited to:

  • Policies that reflect a compassionate attitude toward bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.
  • Additional time off beyond the familiar three days.
  • Flexibility in work assignments and evaluation of job performance.
  • Providing support services and/or time off to obtain counseling or seek a support group
  • Other acts of compassion.

This is the sixth year for recognition of employers by The Compassionate Friends. Recipients receiving the recognition have steadily increased from three the first year to 65 this year.

"When parents experience the death of a child, they begin a lifelong journey through grief recovery that follows them to their workplaces, their churches, and their communities," said TCF Board President Rick Yotti. "The support and sensitivity of employers plays an important role in the positive resolution of grief, so it is gratifying to see so many employers recognized as shining examples of compassionate understanding."



The Compassionate Friends is an international support organization with nearly 600 chapters in the United States serving all 50 states including Alaska. There are TCF organizations in an estimated 29 countries around the world. For contact information on the nearest chapter, call The Compassionate Friends national organization toll-free at 877-969-0010 or visit the TCF national website at

The University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan is a branch campus of the University of Alaska Southeast. The campus employs over 75 individuals and offers a wide variety of educational courses and programs to Ketchikan and the surrounding communities throughout the year. Many course offerings are available both locally and through distance avenues including web-based, audio conference, teleconference and satellite offerings. Through these offerings, students can achieve certificate, associate, bachelor and master degrees.


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