Hope for Widows is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. We are guided by a board of directors and advisory board.
California–Michelle Miller is a grief blogger, has essays featured on TheRumpus.net and OurSideofSuicide.com, and is the author of, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating. Her memoir chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s infidelities and suicide in 2014 at the age of thirty-one, and how she used dating to run from,and simultaneously into her grief.
Prior to her husband’s death, Michelle worked full time with special needs students in a small town while balancing life with two young children and a volatile marriage. Her approach to grief is one of extreme empathy, humor, blunt honesty, and….okay, a few cocktails along the way.
Michelle is currently living with her best friend, and their five children in San Diego, California. She is working on her second book, Ghetto Grief which is a collection of short stories about the unconventional ways in which she grieved and continues to grieve her husband; set to be released in 2017.
For links to follow her on social media, view her blog, purchase her book, or read her published essays, visit: MouthyMichellesMusings.com
Illinois- John Polo is a step dad. First, and foremost.
He is also an author, blogger and speaker.
John met the love of his life, Michelle, at a young age, and the two dated for a year in High School. After eight years apart the two reunited and planned to spend their life together, alongside Michelle’s amazing daughter. Two years after their reunion Michelle was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. So rare in fact, that the two were told when you consider what type of cancer it was, and where it developed, there is only one case a year in the world of what Michelle had. Michelle fought valiantly for two and a half years before taking her last breath on January 22, 2016.
It was no easy feat, but while Michelle was in hospice John had a moment that would forever change him. He was able to rid himself of the bitter, and find his better.
John currently lives in Illinois and raises his step daughter fifty percent of the time. The two share an incredibly close relationship and try to talk about and honor Michelle on a daily basis. To John, she is his ‘step’ daughter only in name, not in his heart.
John is also a contributor for TheMighty.com and Goodmenproject.com and a handful of other websites. He is also currently writing his first book which is set for release on November 11th, 2017. He is also a speaker for the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Foundation and is currently exploring options to expand his speaking opportunities.
John is co-owner of a meeting and event planning company, Quality Conferences, Inc., that also produces mobile event apps, http://www.quickcomm.mobi
His true passion is writing and helping those who are grieving to both honor their pain and see that a hopeful tomorrow can indeed exist.
You can find John’s blog at http://www.betternotbitterwidower.com and his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/betternotbitterwidower
Arkansas- Julie resides in North Central Arkansas and is a mother of two boys; Brandon, her biological son who is twenty eight years old and also adopted nine year old son Jacob. Julie also has three step-children, two are living, one deceased, 5 grandkids, and one great-granddaughter.
Julie is on her third journey of being widowed.
She lost her first love at the age of twenty one to complications of being burned 67% of his body in a vehicle fire, also in midst of all this within days she lost her precious daughter as well. Julie was widowed for a second time at the age of thirty two. Her husband then was killed by a drunk driver. Then years later, Julie was widowed once again at the age of forty three. She lost him too soon to complications from blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and Grave’s disease.
Julie feels like she has loved like no other and have being widowed in her 20’s, 30’s, and then 40’s has taught her a lot and the ways others perceive widows. She is a confident survivor and warrior with a positive attitude. She has learned a lot not only from being widowed, but the men she dearly loved.
Julie has background in finance and real estate, but also studied law for a short time. She also has experience in being a Disc Jockey for many motorcycle rallies, having Disc Jockeyed in as many as 14 states, and playing all day before big name entertainment people rolled in. She enjoys remodeling houses and scrapbooking. Julie also plans to enroll to be a foster parent very soon to eventually adopt one more child.
Texas- Lori Mitchell resides in DFW, TX area. She is a single mother of two; a son who is twenty-three and a daughter who is sixteen.
In February 2015 Lori’s life forever changed. Her significant other took his own life not by accidental overdose, but an intended suicide with massive amounts of heroine. She could not grasp what he was thinking, why would he would do this and thought she was his world. Lori thought she was enough and she was the one saving him from all his pain and addiction when in reality he was falling into it deeper. She was lost, confused, hurt, bitter and angry. To top everything off, her family even closest friends didn’t have a clue what to say to her and some even judged. To make matters worse just because they were not married her feelings were dismissed and she was told to just get over it. Lori was an unwed widow, but people did not care or understand because she was not officially married. Her feelings and grief still mattered.
Through this tragic event it has taught Lori that no matter what crosses your path you can still live, be happy and have a joyous life. She believes that she can relate to so many who have lost a loved one by suicide, suddenly or to a tragic event married or not.
Lori’s passion is helping people and serving others. She wants to continue to share her experience and be there for others that don’t have anyone or anywhere to turn to and to let them know that they are not alone. She believes grief does not discriminate and you do not have to be married, have a piece of paper to walk a grief journey or understand what it means to lose the love of your life.
Lori has worked in the Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals arena for the last 13 years. Delivering lifesaving medications to children and adults throughout the United States and other parts of the world was a part of her job she loved for many years. She also has experience in advertising, marketing and technology.
Lori’s current goal and career path is becoming a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, Suicide Prevention Counselor. She understands the importance of this and how much it is needed in today’s society.
Lori enjoys working out, tennis, volleyball, going to the movies and has a love for piano, violin and dogs, especially the boxer breed.
Illinois– Tanya Smith is a blogger and widow advocate. In 2016 Tanya started the A Widows World blog where she shares her ten year perspective and experience in widowhood. At the age of 26, Tanya became a young widow. For a time, motion was at a standstill, but it came back in full force and gave her so much clarity and tenacity to take on things, to live life with no bounds. This tenacity has opened many doors, inspired new adventures, and forced her out of her comfort zone. She has a heart to serve and her message is one of hope through the dark and devastation. Tanya was just featured as a Woman of Strength in Glancer Magazine, a Chicagoland publication and also recently as a guest on the LifeBeats Project Podcast series, sharing her story and how to get to a place where you can see the beauty in your brokenness. Episode – Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and beginning again after loss to find the beauty in the broken spaces of your life | with Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World (TLBP #64) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lifebeats-project-briana-johnson/id1088514723?mt=2.
Tanya Smith, is also the President of Addelise Inc. a Marketing and Branding company. She is an experienced business executive with over 10+ years of focused business development, brand development, marketing, sales strategies, corporate event planning and social media development. Tanya, has successfully implemented sales and marketing strategies for major corporations and has effectively increased revenue by 50% for a multi-million dollar firm in her professional career. Tanya, is an entrepreneur; mother, remarried widow, lover of life and helping others achieve their dreams.
It has been on her heart to find a very accepting Widows Community where she can call home. She is proud and humbled to be a part of the Hope for Widows Foundation Advisory Board and sisterhood, growing, reaching and fostering connection and inspiration – so that no widow feels left behind.