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2019 has been a year of growth, compassion, and humbling accolades. As one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes for 2019, I’m being described as an “everyday person doing extraordinary things to change the world.” In practice, I am watching extraordinary people doing everyday things in their forever-changed worlds. Like Eliza:
“My husband and I met in November of 2011. While it may seem strange, we fell in love after two weeks. We got married a year and a half later. We had our first child, Ziva, in 2014. We had our second child, Yael, in 2016. We had a very happy life; in the summer we went to the beach and the pool. In the fall and winter we went to the zoo and various other activities. My husband was a very hard worker – he worked six days a week. But he always made sure to spend Sundays with the family.
In February of 2018 my husband was diagnosed with Advanced Stage Liver Cancer. At first we didn’t understand how serious it was. They told us he would have a few years to live. His illness progressed quickly. Truth be told, he had a painful death. He did not actually have a few years either – he died six months after he was diagnosed.
We found Imagine when he was sick. I went to my school board and asked them for counseling suggestions for my then four-year-old. I was so lucky that they knew about Imagine. I started bringing my daughter right away, and they walked me through how to talk to her about his illness and dying. Once he died, we immediately began attending a Night of Support.
Now it is just the three of us. We miss my husband terribly, but we keep his memory upfront. There are pictures of our family all over my home. We talk about him all the time. I want to keep his memory alive for my children. We are fortunate to have Imagine. My daughter who just turned three is going to start attending next week. We are so grateful for the support we have found and the community of others who have survived similar experiences.
Eliza’s is just one story, of one family, on one Night of Support. Since opening our doors, we have served more than 2,400 people from more than 800 families, all finding courage in the face of adversity. Our facility in Mountainside, NJ is nearly at capacity and at our satellite location in the South Ward of Newark which opened in April our first Night of Support there is already full. All of this is at no cost to participating families. This year also saw the launch of our Spanish-speaking parent groups, the expansion to a 6th night of bereavement support serving 60 additional children and adults, the growth of our Coping with Illness program, one-on-one support for children and adults in addition to the support groups, and the launch of our Living with Loss, Healing from Homelessness program with the National Family Promise organization.
CNN is suggesting I am a hero but the real heroes are the generous people like you, without whom our completely privately funded organization simply could not exist. Ziva, Yael and children just like them will benefit directly from your year-end gift to Imagine which will help provide more bi-lingual facilitators, trained volunteers, programming, and so much more. Eliza said it’s “just the three of us” now. Thank you for being a hero to them and families like them through your support. To make a safe, online tax-deductible donation simply click HERE.
Mary L. Robinson, MA, CT
Imagine Executive Director and Founder
P.s. If you’d like to make an end of year gift please click here.