Started in 2011 by Sabrina Gast, Coroner for the York County Coroner's Office, Connecting, Advocating and Responding with Empathy (CARE) Team is made up of specially trained volunteers from York County to respond with the coroners to assist families when they receive the tragic news of a loved one's death. CARE Team volunteers can stay with the family until proper support can arrive.
Care Team Emblem

Team Responsibilities

The CARE Team volunteers have special training provided by the York County Coroner's Office that includes the components of the grieving process, how to talk with a family that has just been told of a death, what the Coroner's Office is responsible for and most importantly, how to assist the family during this time. The York County Coroner's Office continues to offer training and continuing education for our CARE Team volunteers. The CARE Team volunteers are a vital link between the Coroner's Office and the next of kin of deceased individuals. Their concern and compassion will help provide comfort and hope in difficult situations. The CARE Team volunteer is representing the York County Coroner's Office.


  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You are asked to make a one-year commitment, if possible.
  • You must have direct access to a motor vehicle at all times; have a valid Driver's License and valid Vehicle Insurance.
  • You must fill out an application and be approved by the York County Coroner's Office.
  • Applicants may be fingerprinted and processed through City/State/Federal agencies for this purpose.

Role of the CARE Team Volunteer

Activate the support network for the next of kin:
  • Ask who can be contacted about the death.
  • Suggest immediate family, friends, neighbors employer, schools.
  • Ask if they have a church family and if you can contact them.
Provide emotional first aid:
  • Acknowledge the persons experience.
  • Do not minimize their experience (i.e., "You'll be OK").
  • Your presence is often the most comforting thing you can offer.


  • Individuals are often paralyzed after a tragic event and often lose their capacity to deal with all of the new demands created by the death and/or tragedy.
  • Assist the bereaved in developing a simple plan. Suggest... "let's focus on what needs to be done now, we will take it one step at a time."
Confidentiality is of the up-most importance. It is the volunteer's responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the CARE Team. CARE Team volunteers are asked not to talk with friends, family, neighbors, or media about a case.

What CARE Team Volunteer Members Do

  • Respond to death scenes/death notifications anywhere in York County upon request of the Coroners to assist with families.
  • Send out sympathy cards.
  • Make follow-up phone calls.
  • Take time to meet with families.
  • Present to groups of interest.
Remember that a broken heart cannot be fixed. Don't try! A caring presence is what you can offer someone who is emotionally devastated. Just being there is very powerful and will be experienced by the bereaved individual as very helpful. Be a listener, not a talker. Remember this is not about you or your story; it is about them and their loss.

If you are interested in applying for the CARE Team, you can find the CARE Team application at the top right of this page!