Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If Widow's Voice Has Helped You....

This is me with Chris (one of our Tuesday writers) at Camp Widow my t-shirt??
Before 8/31/05 I didn't think much about non-profit organizations. I admired people who worked for great causes, donated here and there, volunteered my time fairly regularly, would probably have clicked on a "vote for us" link to help a friend or co-worker win one of those contests...but the mechanics of the non-profit world were unknown (and of no interest) to me. Then Phil died, and I landed on another planet.

As the months passed and I looked at the scattered remains of my life I searched frantically for proof that I could survive the loss of my husband. I wanted living proof...who survives this kind of pain? Where are they? Why don't they wear badges or something? How do I find widowed people out in the regular world? They must be here somewhere right? Oh, please tell me that I am not the only one. I can't be the only one. Right? 

I began seeking other widowed people out of desperation. And I found a community one person at a time. After each interaction with another widowed person I felt less alone. No matter what was different about our story, the sameness of the fact that we both found ourselves asking the pivotal question of what?...tied us together in a uniquely powerful way. My widowed community saved my sanity; they walked each step of my grief process beside me; each and every one of the people I met gave me hope for the journey ahead; and eventually I knew that the people who came after me needed this community too. So I started a non-profit called the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation in order to provide the people who would walk this road in the future with access to the hope that saved me. Because hope really did save me.

I had no idea what running a non profit would require. In the beginning, I lacked all kinds of essential things (like funding!), but the call to do this work was something I could not ignore. SSLF began with one program (Widow Match), and the idea for a conference where widowed people could find each other...lots of others....proving that they were not alone and providing them with tools to answer the what now question. Friends helped, my family became volunteers, ideas grew into programs and I am very proud to say that three years later SSLF now touches over half a million (we are SO not alone) widowed people every year, with no operating budget. And the need for our one-of a kind programs continues to grow every day, because hope will always matter to widowed people's recovery. Count on that.

 Soaring Spirits is the parent to this blog and five other programs. In the three years I have been writing this blog and running this organization I have never openly asked for help for our programs.But today I am asking for your help because SSLF has a great opportunity, and the way to help is easy. If this blog or any of our other programs has mattered to you  or to someone you love please help us continue to help you/them. 

Pepsi Refresh offers grants to non-profit organizations based on public support via Internet voting and Pepsi Product purchases. It may sound like a gimmick, but I assure you it is not. Pepsi is giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of great ideas to Refresh the world. SSLF is in the running for a $50,000 grant. This would be a game changer for us. Funding is essential to both day-to-day operations, and to future growth for a grassroots organization like ours. How do you help? Here is a list of ways to support our effort to secure this grant:

1.) Follow this link ( to vote for SSLF and Camp Widow every day until 9/30...only 23 days to go!

2.) Purchase Pepsi Products with the "Power Vote" logo on the packaging. There are codes inside these products (under the cap or inside the box) that can be used for up to 100 votes each! Collect them from your friends, give Pepsi away as a gift...gather codes and enter them all at once by registering HERE.

3.) Don't give up. Vote every day, buy Pepsi products (I know this is a shameless plug) and use those codes to support SSLF. We need you to make this happen!

Maybe you are like the before me and have never given much thought to how non-profits do what they do? The hard part is not just coming up with the idea and managing the is finding the funding to get the support programs going and then keep them going. This grant would do just that. We've made it easy for you to vote...just look for the Pepsi badge at the top right of this blog. We need thousands of votes to win. Lucky for us thousands of people read this blog every day...if each of you support us for the next 23 days what a difference YOU can make....for me, for you, but most importantly for them. The ones who don't need us yet. Vote for us so we can help them.Thank you for reading, for voting, and for believing that hope matters.

If you have questions, or feel called to help support SSLF in other ways too, just follow click here for my contact information...I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Michele, we first "met" on the phone in the fall of 2008 before the first conference on widowhood (prior to the Camp Widow name). When we got off of the phone, I told my co-workers and my family that I had just "met" the most amazing woman -- one who was going to change the world. How true that statement has been! Your passion and determination through the years has been inspiring to see. I am honored to call you friend. I plan to help spread the word about the Pepsi Refresh voting on Facebook and Twitter and I'll continue to vote! I hope that everyone will do the same. And just a word about donating to SSLF, I encourage everyone to do what they can to help. If you're not currently in the position to donate, encourage your family and friends to help. Ask your boss or company. Ask your neighbor! This incredible organization (and you personally, Michele) has done so much for so many -- let's all pull together to help continue this great work, because hope really does matter.

  2. Absolutely, my pleasure to do this. It is such a small and easy way to give back to an organization that has helped me in more ways than I can say.

  3. Thank you Pamela, you have been a big part of this effort and I so appreciate your support and your friendship. Love you to bits!

    Anonymous, your votes count, thank you so much for helping us make a difference!