Companions on a Journey provides ongoing support for the bereaved – one child, one teen, one adult, one family at a time, surrounding them with HOPE, STRENGTH, and HEALING as they create their new life balance.
- Creating an accepting environment
- Providing friendship and support
- Giving confidence to share feelings
- Respecting silence
- Understanding grief is non time-bound
- Sharing a common bond
- Listening empathetically
COJ is a safe place where my family learned we are not alone in our grief.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Grief is the most inclusive experience we know, and at Companions on a Journey we strive to make sure all feel welcome. Unfortunately, we all experience grief. Regardless of your color, national origin, ancestries, religion, socioeconomic status, sex/sexual orientation, or disability, we are on a mission to support those who are grieving.
Our goal is to treat everyone we serve equally with the highest regard and respect, without prejudice. Grief does not discriminate and neither do we. We look forward to serving you.
Rooted in God’s Love
Out of tragic loss, the seeds of Companions on a Journey were planted more than 20 years ago as a way of providing HOPE, STRENGTH, and HEALING to the bereaved children and families of our community.
With much compassion and care, these seeds have grown and flourished over the years into a beautiful, vibrant tree of love, providing shade, comfort and shelter to many.
When we experience the death of a loved one, our lives often feel as if they’re unraveling. It can be a confusing time, a time filled with a mixture of conflicting and changing emotions.
Each person’s grief experience is unique and quite often it can be difficult for friends and family members to fully understand what we’re going through. It’s a tough reality that at the exact time when we need to connect with others the most, connection can often be so very hard.
This is where Companions on a Journey comes in. Like a sturdy tree, COJ provides us with roots to stay grounded during the storm and supports the growth of new buds of healing with love as we prepare to emerge from winter, working always, within our own personal timelines.
The journey of grief is not an easy one.
It takes us deep inside the depths of ourselves – to our beliefs, our assumptions, our identity, our relationships, and more. Just as storms make trees stronger, you, too, will discover newfound strength as you bravely move forward in your grief — one day, one hour, and sometimes even just one moment at a time.
Sheila Munafo-Kanoza Talks About the Grief Journey
COJ Over the Years
Companions on a Journey was founded by Sheila Munafo-Kanoza in 1997 as a faith-based, community volunteer organization. COJ has steadily grown to become one of the largest faith-based bereavement services organization in the region. Presently, COJ facilitates grief-specific support groups including our school-based program which serves over 650 students a month in 43+ schools. We offer family and adult grief programs, corporate support, first responder support, training & education, school and community crisis response, Suicide Postvention, Bereavement Facilitator Training and QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Training.
- Companions on a Journey (COJ) began as a ministry at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish offering one support group to address all forms of grief.
The First Call
- COJ provided its first crisis response at Archbishop Moeller High School following the death of a teacher.
Teens in Grief
- COJ launched Teens in Grief, a school-based grief support program, at Archbishop Moeller High School under the leadership of Sheila Munafo-Kanoza and Patricia Buckley. This program has expanded to serve other high schools throughout the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Dayton areas.
Board of Directors
- COJ’s Board of Directors formed. Members included Sheila Munafo-Kanoza, Linda Sullivan, Margaret Kast, Tom Kanoza, Russ Pennavaria, and Stephen Sullivan.
- COJ incorporated and became a 501(c)(3) organization.
- COJ’s Teen Suicide Postvention program began; this program has expanded to include support for adults.
- COJ adopted Mending Hearts, A Program for Grieving Children, Teens and their Families from the John Engel Christian Counseling Center.
- Host our very first gala! We thank you for supporting our wonderful galas over the years! In 2020, we decided to transition this event to a more casual, family-friendly fundraiser.
Expanded to Grades K-8
- COJ launched Children in Grief School-based Program serving students in grades K-8. COJ’s school-based grief support program now supports students in grades K-12.
Expanded to Include Other Types of Loss
- COJ expanded the school-based support program to include other types of losses including incarceration, deportation and abandonment in both the Children and Teens in Grief school-based programs.
First Golf Outing
- COJ Board Member, Mike Munafo, and friend Ryan Butts created and supported the first COJ Classic Golf Outing at Glenview Golf Course – a tradition that continues today!
COJ Hearts & Bears
- Our cherished friends at Chesterwood Village began cutting, sewing and assembling hearts and bears for COJ to share with bereaved children, teens, families and adults.
New Branding & Website
- With our partners from LemonGrenade Creative, we refreshed our brand and website.
- Thanks to our supporters, we were able to update our office, doubling our available space!
COJ Goes Virtual
- COJ implemented virtual support in response to COVID-19 pandemic.