SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – An international mentorship program that helps girls who have suffered the loss of a parent is expanding its mission in order to help more children.

empowerHER is making an announcement Wednesday night at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.

The non-profit pairs women who have lost a parent when they were a child, with girls who lost a parent.

The program is meant to help a child through their grief by have them talk to someone who has gone through the same exact thing and also letting them know the loss is something they can survive.

The big announcement is that the organization is going to expand to include boys and non-binary youth so all children who have suffered this loss can be helped.

“Losing a parent is everything it’s devastating,” empowerHER CEO Cara Belvin said.

Cara Belvin was nine years old when her mother lost a two year battle with breast cancer.

“I never met a woman whose mother died in childhood who could kind of pulled me aside and say I know what you’re going through,” Belvin said.

It was an isolation and struggle she wanted to help other kids through so ten years ago she founded empowerHER. A non-profit that pairs women who have lost a parent as a child with girls who have lost a parent.

“So that was my mom’s favorite flower too. So every time I see a lilac tree it’s like a symbol.”

Christina Zarotney who lost her mother Joyce to heart disease became Abby Adams’s mentor in 2019, after Abby lost her mother to a brain tumor.

“It’s been really great having someone there that’s knowing what I’ve been through,” said Abby Adams.

Soon more children will benefit from this mentorship as empowerHER expands to include boys and non-binary youth.

“As soon as my dad died I put up a wall I put up a barrier and said you do not understand what I am feeling,” said Jeff McGowan, who lost his father.

Jeff was 17 a junior in high school. His dad was his anchor.

“There was a buck up go get yourself done which is how we grew up,” McGowan said.

Cara, Jeff, and their friend Ali all went to Southington High School together and all experienced parent loss but they didn’t speak about it back then. Now they are working together to try to ease the pain for other kids.

“Losing someone like that is such an isolating experience but to know that to know there’s other people out there that have been through the same thing it makes you feel less alone,” Adams said.

They are hoping more mentors especially men will come forward so any child experiencing the extraordinary loss of a parent doesn’t have to wait for that support.

“For me, the big thing is getting men to be willing to show what hurt,” McGowan said.

Anyone interested in joining the mentorship program can apply here.