…when you need to know there are friends who care…

The Penny Bear Company


Community Outreach Programs

Our Penny Bear Circles of Hope community programs provide gatherings (“circles”) for people whose lives have been affected by Parkinson’s disease, cancer, caregiving responsibilities, or who are experiencing a life transition during a time of bereavement.

Quoting Marblehead Reporter newspaper journalist Kaitlin Melanson: “…Each group (circle) is designed for not only those who have an illness or loss, but also to help their families and friends have a better understanding of what their loved ones are going through.”


Wellness Activities


Our Penny Bear Circles of Hope community programs provide a once-weekly daytime wellness gathering at our Penny Bear location for people whose lives have been affected by Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and caregiving responsibilities, and for those who are experiencing a life transition during a time of bereavement.

All of our once-weekly wellness activities are provided free of charge by certified professionals and other volunteers who offer their skills to provide Reiki, yoga, massage, chair massage, and polarity. We share information from traditional and complementary medical fields, spirituality programs, group support for people with Parkinson’s disease, and quiet space for resting and meditation. Click here to contact us.



Caroline Ross


Marblehead resident Caroline Ross was no stranger to the effects of recurring illness. Before we began offering our daytime wellness program, Caroline was interviewed for a news story about the original Penny Bear Circle of Hope evening cancer support group. Caroline shared that "one of the best things about it is that it is open to all types of cancers" (she was living with her third type), and that it was, for her, an "uplifting, learning, strengthening experience."

Sadly for all of us, our Caroline has passed, but her joyful spirit remains with us, as do her words from the newspaper article that capture what we continue to share each week with all who join us on the wellness day:

"It really is, in fact, a circle of healing where the help continually comes around in full circle. It's the type of situation where one day you lean on me, and the next day I lean on you."




Sue de Vries on left



When Sue de Vries (left in photo), a young wife and mother of three, was diagnosed in 2001 with breast cancer at age 39, she began an intense treatment regimen that included visits to a Newton, Massachusetts wellness center. However, the effort involved in traveling either alone or with her children to the center for programs became too difficult. She was welcomed into our evening Penny Bear Circle of Hope cancer support group, and during that bonding continued to focus her mission on a way to offer a wellness program closer to home here on the North Shore.

Sue's goal of creating a starting point to provide a local center for people whose lives are affected by cancer became a reality after exchanging dreams with Penny Wigglesworth (right in photo).  Penny opened the warmth of her own home to create a welcoming, healing space and teamed with Sue and Sue’s close friends and our Penny Bear volunteers to create a once-weekly daytime wellness program.

Because of Sue’s own prolonged struggle with such serious illness, we originally structured our program only for people affected by cancer. We have since recognized the importance of including people with other health and life challenges in our wellness activities, as well.

Sue waged a long and courageous battle that she ultimately couldn't survive. Her friends and family continued her mission in her memory and partnered with The Wellness Community of Greater Boston in successfully opening a satellite location in nearby Salem, MA.. Sadly, however, changes in the economy eventually forced the entire Wellness Community network of centers to temporarily close their doors. However, Sue's friends have remained strongly dedicated to her pioneering vision of providing free health-related programs for individuals and families affected by cancer here in our local North Shore area. For more information about the Foundation, click here: http://www.suedevriescancerfoundation.org/

Parkinson's Disease


Through our Circles of Hope programs, we provide twice-monthly gatherings for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Family members or friends who are part of their support teams are welcomed to accompany them.

Most of our members had not participated in group support before. It is an honor to be gifted with their trust and willingness to openly share and learn from one another. We, in turn, introduce them to guest speakers from both traditional and complementary medical fields, specialists in mobility and balance, as well as physical, occupational, and speech and swallowing therapists. Members of our group volunteered to help pioneer an innovative weekly “Dancing with Parkinson’s” program where participants from our town and surrounding communities benefit from the cognitive, balance, and coordination focus that choreographed dance movements provide. They also strengthen their voices – and have great fun! – singing aloud during the dance routines.

We have shared laughter, frustrations and coping skills, creative artistic expression, and an inspired array of "self-help" ideas they have created themselves! The conversations and observations exchanged among them regarding living skills is an education not only for them, but for us, too. Click here for more information about Parkinson’s disease: www.parkinson.org and in Boston www.apdama.org.



Anyone who has been a caregiver…for whatever reason…recognizes how the roller-coaster emotions of kindness, isolation, pride, frustration, acceptance, sadness, compassion, anger, love and sometimes even guilt, change family-life dynamics.

We have invited caregivers to gatherings created especially for them, where we have recognized the importance of making time for self-care, and the need to identify isolation and its effect on the spirits of those who receive and provide care. These occasional evenings have offered friends much-needed time for sharing coping skills, resource and medical information, and rediscovering perspective about taking care of their own physical and emotional needs.

Life Transitions

Bereavement Support


Our Penny Bear organization welcomed the Threshold Singers in becoming another of our Circles of Hope programs. Theirs is the tender gift of music sung to individuals who need encouragement for facing illness and finding strength to heal, for coping with the uncertainties of aging, and for those who are nearing the end of life.

The Threshold Singers are local volunteers honoring the ancient tradition of singing in small ensembles at the bedside of people in private homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice facilities. Their repertoire includes songs and chants from a variety of cultures and traditions ranging from sacred to secular, old familiar songs, hymns, military, and patriotic songs. When invited to sing by a patient, family, or staff members, the singers’ presence conveys kindness, compassion, and the sense that the person is not alone.

Please click here to read more about the Threshold Singers and their unique mission of providing comfort through music.




There is a wise old saying: "Every death takes a thousand tellings." Every story is unique, and the journey though grief holds similar paths…but all of us need to find our own way. We offer a warm, private, home setting for support gatherings that are facilitated by a licensed, certified counselor and a bereavement-trained Penny Bear volunteer. The groups meet for six weeks and are free of charge. We have also provided encouragement with the difficult challenge of coping with the grief process during the holidays. We are honored to provide these gatherings as frequently as we are made aware of the need.


"You stand at the closed door
through which your loved one

 has passed.
Those of us who love you
stand beside you at the door."

-Maya Angelou

The Penny Bear Company
c/o Penny Wigglesworth
114 Moorings Park Drive, A-308
Naples, FL 34105

Webmaster: Annie Clifford
Clifford Web and Video Services
3 Park Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945