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May 18, 2010

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May 18, 2010

I am a psychotherapist who specializes in working with those confronting life-threatening illnesses or coping with acute grief after the loss of a loved one. I was recruited by Executive Director Michele Neff Hernandez to speak at the Foundation's first national widows' conference the summer of 2009. I have remained in contact with Michele and her organization ever since and look forward to speaking again at this year's conference. As a psychotherapist, I can not speak stongly enough about the need for and healing power of peer support during a loss or life crisis. SSLF brings widows together to share their stories and offer support and proof of survival to each other, when they are most in need. This is a gift like no other. And the best part is when one widow or widower supports another, he or she also empowers themselves. So it is a gift that keeps on giving. This organization would not exist without the vision, enthusiasm and incredible generosity of it's founder and executive director Michele Neff Hernandez. She has transformed her own tragic experience as a young widow into an opportunity to educate, support and heal so many others. It has been a true privilege to get to know her and to be a small part of this organization. Michele A. Reiss PhD

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As a speaker at the 2009 national conference, I witnessed first hand the power of widows of all ages coming together to learn, to play and to support each other. It was an exciting and wondrous experience

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 15, 2010

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May 15, 2010

My husband passed away unexpectedly on November 15, 2008, and I learned about SSLF and Camp Widow about five months afterward through another widowed person. I needed all the help and support I could possibly get - especially since I needed to pull myself together for my two young children, so I jumped at the chance to go and I am so grateful that I did. There is something incredibly comforting about being around others that have been through the same thing... An instant bond was formed among many of us, and we are still there for each other even though most of us live far apart. Losing my husband changed my life forever, but finding the support through SSLF has changed my life for the better and gave me a strength I don't think I would have had otherwise. I also find that helping others through SSLF is just as therapeutic as receiving the help. I attended Camp Widow in San Diego the first two years and plan to go every year to give and receive support. I admire Michele Hernandez for turning her own grief into a cause to help others, and she does it with sincerity, love, grace, wisdom, intelligence and diplomacy.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Even though people die all the time and there are widowed people everywhere, when it happens to you, you feel completely alone and isolated. SSLF brings widowed people together and makes you feel comforted and supported by those who truly understand. I'm much healthier and happier for having this support in my life.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The only thing I would change would be to make the Soaring Spirits a household name all over the world so that people would know exactly where to find us when they need us. We're working on that...

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Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Can't think of anything...

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Yes - I have made many new friends, am learning a lot.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

It is very fulfilling.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

May 14, 2010

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May 14, 2010

Widow Match program connected me with other Widows around my same age, who's husband passed away around the same time as my dear husband. After my husband passed away, I was lost, not knowing who to turn to for support. I needed to be able to talk to someone that understood how I was feeling. I have made three amazing life long friends. We have helped each other through a very difficult time by offering emotional support and understanding. This program has been one of my biggest blessings. I will be forever grateful to the Widow Match Program.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The support I have received through this program has given me hope for the future.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 12, 2010

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May 12, 2010

Two years into widowhood, I was feeling unsettled and unsure. Would I be able to keep my house? Should I stay in this community? Am I doing OK as the single mom of a teenage son and college daughter? One afternoon, I came home from work thinking, "I need to find some other widows who understand what I'm going through." Most of the widows groups I found online in my area served the elderly or were bereavement support groups, or facilitated dating. Then, I found Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation and noticed they were sponsoring the First National Conference on Widowhood. "I'm going to that," I decided. At this conference, I met widows from all over the U.S. and the world! The connections were immediate. I found that women who had just met would soon be deep in conversation about their loss, how they were widowed, and how they were coping with this "new normal". At the elegant banquet Saturday night, and I met 8 delightful widows from Singapore! Sunday morning was a 5-K "Widows Dash". What a kick to walk/run with dozens of other widows. I came away from the conference knowing that it was the best thing I had done for myself since my husband died. Daily, the "Widow's Voice" blog provides encouragement and affirmation for those of us who have lost our mates way too early in life. A million kudos go out to Michele Neff Hernandez and her associates who have formed this wonderful organization. As more and more women become baby boomer widows, Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation will be there for information and support. They meet a vital need in our society and culture.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

many ways! The daily Widow's Voice blog is a continual source of encouragement and affirmation, and the annual conference ("Camp Widow" this year) is a renewing experience for any widow.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

it is comprised of other widows who "get it". No one understands like another widow.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

all wonderful! These volunteers have given hours and hours to create a fantastic organization for widows.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

produce an amazing annual conference and provide registrations for widows from around the world who otherwise would not be able to attend.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 11, 2010

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May 11, 2010

It was so amazing to watch these women come together. The sense of understanding, compassion, belonging, and hope for the future was a feeling I will not soon forget. Truly amazing!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The Widow Match Program is truly a blessing.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Michele Hernandez

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

They were all so kind and very well organized.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

do a great deal of good.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 7, 2010

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May 7, 2010

I always thought I was a strong person. That all changed on Sept 6, 2008. I was only strong because I had the firm arms of my husband to hold me up. I was only 46 when John died. We had grew up together, only 17 when engaged. We laughed, cried, prayed, fought, loved, rasied children both together. How was I to go on without my better part of me? Then I found SSLF. I made plane & hotel reservations, knowing all along I was alone in this. That changed from the moment I got my registration packet to today. I wasn't alone anymore. I had women across the universe that were struggling just as I was. We all became one that weekend. I still have times of grief, probably will forever, but I know I can go to any one of my SSLF friends, (thru the magic of Facebook) anytime of the day or night, and I will find comfort knowing I am not alone.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

meeting other widowed people who really understood me, and having the opportunity to hold each other up as we found a way to live totally different life ahead of us.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

understanding, caring, and helpful.

Ways to make it better...

SSLF had the funds to make Camp Widow a free program.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 5, 2010

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May 5, 2010

Since the death of my brother-in-law in a tragic accident I have observed the transformation of a beloved sister through grief and sorrow to acceptance and wisdom. The ability to connect with other women who experienced the same thing was obviously crucial for her, and it was something I simply could not provide. I would have done anything for my sister, but I couldn't help. Together, widows can brave the tough road ahead much better than alone, so I fully support the efforts of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation to bring women together and help them to find comfort in their shared grief.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the positive impact that it has on my sister's life.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the tireless commitment level of the director and board.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

open, honest, loving people who truly desire to help others.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help women worldwide during a horribly difficult period of their lives which doesn't need to be traversed alone.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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