Board of Directors

Board Chair

Shelle Kindschuh

Treasurer

Paula Gleicher Greenstreet

Secretary and Social Media Assistant

Simone Garcia

Secretary

Eileen Clarke

Board Member

Markell R. Morris

Board Member, Grant Chair

Desiree Fransua

Board Member and Newsletter Chair

Melissa Peoples

Board Member and Community Blogger

Jacki Corta

Executive Director

Chasity Williams

Board Chair

Shelle Kindschuh

Shelle Kindschuh is a certified Life and Grief Coach at ShelleyLynn Coaching, LLC. Becoming a certified life and grief coach, along with her own self coaching has been instrumental for her healing.  Shelle empowers her clients who are facing loss in their lives by showing them how it is possible to convert these personal challenges into growth opportunities. She meets them where they are and offers them support and guidance to help them get to where they want to be.
Shelle met her husband Steve when working at a resort casino and they had an amazing 5 years together with his two children. The four of them spent their days 4 wheeling, snowmobiling, fishing – pretty much anything outdoors. In September of 2017 she woke up to find her husband not breathing, only 46 years old. Working though the experience of that tragic morning, along with all that goes into life after the death of a spouse, has led her to reinvent herself.
Months after her husband died, she came across Hope for Widows Foundation and began following and receiving support from other widows.  A few months after that she became a member of the Health and Wellness Committee and started offering support to members.  Shelle now comes to the Board to make an impact on a deeper level and reach.Shelle spends her time with her son going on hikes, listening to live music, spending time at that lake or just being at home with their two Saint Pyrenees dogs.

You can check out her website at www.shellelynncoaching.com
Treasurer

Paula Gleicher Greenstreet

Paula Gleicher Greenstreet started her career as a Software Engineer in the video manufacturing industry. After receiving her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 1993, she went into management, and then marketing. She met her soulmate, Joe, in 1997 when work moved her from Salt Lake City, Utah to Nevada City, California. They married three years later.

The Dot Com bust forced Paula to reinvent herself. With help, guidance, and support from Joe, she became a Real Estate Broker. In 2004, she and Joe merged businesses to form BroadStreet Financial Group. Ten years later, she realized she liked accounting more and became an Enrolled Agent. With Joe’s passing from Neuroendocrine Cancer on August 29, 2018, she pledged to carry on their accounting business in his honor and has continued to grow it with her five female employees.

Paula is no stranger to volunteer work. She was event chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for four years and served on the steering committee for an additional four years. She was a Community Ambassador for the American Cancer Society and has traveled the country speaking to lawmakers about the importance of cancer research funding.

Paula joined Early Risers Toastmasters in 2000 and achieved Distinguished Toastmaster status in 2011. She is still an active member. She served as Toastmasters District 39 Treasurer in 2011 and has served all the officers’ roles in her club – President, Vice President Education, Vice President Membership, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms.

Paula has two Rottweilers named Freddy and Barney, and two cats named Pebbles and Bam Bam. She loves visiting with her bonus family of three stepdaughters, three sons-in-law, and six grandchildren. She also enjoys gardening, reading, and more recently rediscovered her love of jigsaw puzzles.

When asked what most people do not know about her – she shared that even though she loved going Jeeping with Joe and their friends, she was usually scared spitless!

Secretary and Social Media Assistant

Simone Garcia

Simone Garcia has worked for the Department of Treasury for over 10 years and holds a degree in Business Management. She is also the administrator at her church.  She also serves as one leader of The PBF Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry where they enrich the lives of women body, soul, and spirit, by inspiring and encouraging women to live in the fullness that God intended. 

Simone met her late husband Gregory in 1992 through a mutual friend and became best friends for over eighteen years. Simone and Gregory were married for four years and had no children. Their marriage was filled with an abundance of love and laughter. They shared a love of football, music, cooking, and Star Wars. Gregory dealt with many health issues which lead to his untimely death on Sunday, February 6, 2017. Being a sudden widow at the age of 42, Simone was lost and did not know how to navigate her first time dealing with grief. It was through a repost of an insightful meme her cousin, who also became a sudden widow, where Simone discovered Hope for Widows Foundation. Simone found that there were other women from all walks of life who were dealing with the same issues she was and that she was not alone. The Hope for Widows Foundation community became a refuge and helped her through her grief journey. Since the death of her late husband, Simone has been trying to find her purpose in her “new normal life”. Joining Hope for Widows Foundation would give an opportunity for her to share experiences, resources, and encouragement to fellow widows, especially to those who’ve never experienced grief before.

Secretary

Eileen Clarke

Eileen Clarke is currently a Sourcing Manager for a major manufacturing company in the Chicagoland Area. She has been part of the manufacturing industry for over 25 years.  Her background includes inventory management, production planning, project management, and strategic sourcing.

Eileen knew her late husband since they were small children. Their parents met soon after they all arrived in Chicago from Ireland.  They became fast and lifelong friends.  Eileen and Pat played together as children and were friends in their teens and early 20’s.  Years later, they reconnected again on a golf course on a hot summer night in 2011. They quickly realized it was more than friendship and would be married 2 years later.   After 4 wonderful years of marriage, Pat passed away suddenly at the age of 47 from a heart attack.   Eileen has 2 stepsons, Patrick and Bryan, with whom she has close relationships.

In the very early stages of her grief, she came across Hope for Widows Foundation and began following and reading the blogs from other widows.  A few months later she started blogging for the foundation and sharing her story.  Eileen continues to be a part of the community with the hope of being able to help someone else in their journey of grief and to offer hope for the future.

Eileen enjoys running, traveling, and the Chicago Cubs.  Eileen has a love of gardening and spends countless hours perfecting her backyard paradise.  Spending time with family, friends, and her 14-year-old dog Harry is where she is most happy.

Board Member

Markell R. Morris

Markell is an international speaker, career counselor and job search coach who helps career changers figure out their career goals after loss and personal challenges through her company Futures in Motion, Inc. She has created career information resources and programs that educate, guide and mentor people in support of pursuing meaningful careers from a place of possibility and abundance. Clients say she inspires, encourages and empowers them to go after their goals and live their best life.

In 2013, Markell unexpectedly became a widow when her husband, Mark, died suddenly weeks before their first anniversary. She had to figure out how to reestablish her employment and reinvent her career.  On the journey, Hope for Widows was an organization she turned to for support and community. Markell hopes that by joining the Board she can use her career coaching and organizational development background to support Hope for Widows Foundation’s vision to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of widows, so they can go from grieving to surviving to thriving.

Markell is also an associate faculty member at Santa Monica College Transfer/Counseling Center and Adjunct Career Counselor at Cypress College. She is the President of the California Career Development Association and Volunteer Grief Group Facilitator at New Hope Grief Support Community.

She received her Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of San Diego, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara (Go Gauchos!).

You can learn more about how Markell helps career changers discover meaningful career paths after loss and personal challenges, and request her guide, 5 Steps for Launching Your Career Transition  at her website http://www.futures-in-motion.com.

Board Member, Grant Chair

Desiree Fransua

Desiree Fransua is currently a Project Manager for an Emergency Medical Services Billing and Technology Firm where she handles new client onboarding and implementation processes for ambulance transporting agencies. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Human Resource Management from Regis University and her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University Global. Desiree has been employed in the healthcare revenue cycle industry for almost twenty years. Her experience in the industry also includes managing staff, process improvement, billing operations, payer credentialing and contracting, provider relations, and project management.

Desiree and her husband Marcus spent nearly two decades experiencing life’s precious moments together. A life full of good, bad, wonderful, terrible, blissful, gut-wrenching moments. In February 2018, just a few months before his fortieth birthday, Marcus suddenly passed away from a fatal acute subdural hematoma caused by a head injury. With this tragedy, came many challenges. Her entire world changed; now a widow and single parent. Marcus and Desiree had two sons together; ages sixteen and nine at the time. Desiree is a follower of Christ, she relies heavily on her faith to create a path towards hope and healing for herself and her children.

Desiree joined the Hope for Widows Board for many reasons but is determined to turn pain into purpose by helping other women that are also navigating their widow journey. She believes empathy, compassion, community, and fellowship make all the difference in the healing process.

Desiree enjoys attending church, volunteering, exercising, traveling, going to concerts, and making memories with her family and friends.

Board Member and Newsletter Chair

Melissa Peoples

Melissa PL Peoples has been serving the public in leadership positions over the past 18 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.  Her experience includes leading process improvement efforts, training and developing, and building positive relationships. She is currently a certified Business Relationship Manager Professional and focuses on educating, engaging, and building professional partnerships.

Melissa lost her loving husband, Raymond, to a sudden heart attack in 2015. Grieving, child-rearing their one-year-old son at the time, and navigating “the new normal”  can be a lonely journey. Her hope is that serving on the Hope for Widows Foundation Board will make a greater impact for the widow community and the resources available. 

Melissa is action-focused. As a previous community blogger for Hope for Widows Foundation, Melissa hoped to provoke thought, share ideas, and encourage. Over the last year, she has served as the Newsletter Chair and desires to continue to help her sisters in the widow community. Grief is a process but moving forward is an opportunity.

Her passion is to encourage, motivate, and help others. She taps into her professional experience as well as all of the tools she learned on her journey of “the new normal”.  You can also find her on Instagram @Melissa_PL_P

Board Member and Community Blogger

Jacki Corta

Jacki Corta is a motivational speaker, intuitive life, and grief coach along with the founder and CEO of Strength > Struggle™. The brand she discovered after traveling the journey of cancer with her husband. She started the Strength>Struggle™ crusade, helping others find their inner strength during some of the scariest times. In 2014, her husband, Douglas was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and 20 months later passed away, giving Jacki a new title… Widow. It is Jacki’s mission to share her story with the world and how it can positively impact others in whatever they may face. It is a story of unexplainable strength in life’s most challenging storms, overcoming adversity and finding hope while traveling the difficult path her life took.

It is her ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable that connects with her clients and audiences. Jacki believes her purpose here is to impact as many souls as possible showing them that through even the darkest days there is a glimpse of light to grab onto for them to find their strength. Jacki will empower, challenge, and give you a new outlook on your own story.

She is a mother of three adult girls and a Mimi to two beautiful granddaughters. You can follow more of her story and inspiration on Instagram @jackicorta or listen to her podcast Jacki Has a Voice on Spotify.

Executive Director

Chasity Williams

Chasity Williams is a nonprofit professional with an extensive background that includes C-Suite support, Operations, Corporate Event Planning, Human Resources, Client Relations, and Project Management. Chasity is also involved with several volunteer organizations that include grief facilitation, bereavement support at local hospices, and leading several online grief resources. Her passion and heart are to serve and help others.

Chasity is two time published author that shares a collection of stories by widows across the globe. Each shares their own personal insight into the hidden and often unspoken challenges of losing a husband, including the emotional, mental and social shifts we are forced to reckon with in the aftermath. Visit here to read more and order a copy: Grief Diaries: Through the Eyes of a Widow and The Unwelcome Committee

Chasity met her late husband at the young age of eighteen. In June of 2009, her life would forever change when she lost her husband suddenly in a lake drowning at the age of thirty-four years old. Finding out who she was again, raising her son, and living life to the fullest even after this tragedy was a mission she was eager to accomplish. Darrell and Chasity have one son together who is a recent college graduate that is now working full-time and choreographing his next big adventure.

Chasity enjoys volunteering, traveling, sporting events, writing, and spending time with her family and friends.

Advisory Board

No members found

Program Volunteers

Health and Wellness

J’aime Morrison

Health and Wellness

Jenifer Johnson

Health and Wellness

J’aime Morrison

J’aime Morrison Ph.D. is a Professor of Movement and Performance at California State University, Northridge. J’aime has worked nationally and internationally with students, actors, professionals and communities as a movement coach, dance instructor and choreographer helping individuals to develop eloquent, expressive bodies through which to communicate and heal. She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University and she was a Dance major as an undergraduate student at UCLA. In 2010 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Portugal in the area of Theatre Movement. Recently J’aime made a short film, Upwell, as a way of processing her grief over the death of her husband Jim from brain cancer in 2015.  The film has been accepted to several film festivals and won Best Cinematography from the 2020 Experimental Dance and Music Film Festival. J’aime is an Associate member of Women in Film  and hopes to make her next film soon. Before the Corona-virus pandemic J’aime was scheduled to co-host a grief/surf retreat in Costa Rica in collaboration with TwoCan Retreats. The retreat is on hold, but J’aime is excited to be offering her “movement for grief” workshops for the members of Hope for Widows.

J’aime plans to lead a series of workshops for Hope for Widows Foundation that put mourning in motion through moving meditations, gentle stretching and an intuitive embodied practice. Using healing images of water – the ocean and its waves, we will engage with both the undertow – the sorrow of losing a loved one, and the upwell – the swell of emotion and promise of new energy in our lives. Grief really does come in waves and we must learn to ride them – join her as we learn to dance the waves.

This embodied approach to grief work will invite you to explore your physical and emotional experience of loss and help move you towards the expression of your experience in this non-verbal, cathartic way. These workshops are appropriate for those in any phase of the grief process and for those who want to deepen their exploration of the sea as a source of healing and transformation.

In 2009 J’aime’s husband Jim was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They welcomed their daughter Flora into the world amidst chemo treatments, radiation and surgery. Jim, a former athlete, gradually lost his ability to walk but he stayed alive long enough to see his daughter ride a bike and go on painting outings together. Even though they lived with the knowledge that Jim wouldn’t make it, his loss hit J’aime very hard and she has struggled deeply with his absence. In creating dance and film and sharing these passions with others, J’aime hopes she can make a positive contribution to this wonderful Hope Sister Community.

Health and Wellness

Jenifer Johnson

Jenifer met her husband Jamie at the babysitter’s house. There he was holding her first born son, it was truly love at first sight. He always joked that he fell in love with our son first and she was a package deal. A year later, Jenifer gave birth to their daughter and married a year later. Then 13 years later, her life forever changed and Jamie was murdered at the age of 32 by her mother-in-law’s boyfriend. Jenifer helplessly watched him die that day. Jenifer was 33 when her status suddenly changed to widow.

Jenifer lost her way through PTSD and survivor’s guilt and she held on bitterly only for their children. 12 years later and after significant amounts of therapy and self discovery, Jenifer can now treasure the special memories she had with Jamie.

Jenifer is a grandma of 5 at 45 (catchy isn’t it). They are the sweetest part of her life. She also enjoys writing poetry, blogging an online widows diary, and singing and dancing (at home). Jenifer additionally taught herself to crochet to calm her nerves . She currently sells her crochet work and crafts for extra money and to provide childcare to friends and family. You can find her work on Facebook at https://m.facebook.com/YarningWithGma/

Jenifer currently is a Moderator for Hope for Widows Foundation Facebook private group where she has found forever friendship, understanding and purpose. She also is excited to provide additional support through the Advisory Board with the program she will lead called Hope Sister Sunshine Mail. Jenifer will be able to bring her creativity and giving heart to the forefront as he sprinkles positivity and love to our Hope Sister Community.

Jenifer shares there are two things she fully believes 1. No matter how much she suffers there’s someone suffering more, and if they can endure pain and suffering who am I to say I cannot 2. No matter how bad today is tomorrow is a new day.


Leadership and Operations Team

Executive Director

Chasity Williams

Board Member and Newsletter Chair

Melissa Peoples

Secretary and Social Media Assistant

Simone Garcia

Bookkeeper

Paula Gleicher

Executive Director

Chasity Williams

Chasity Williams is a nonprofit professional with an extensive background that includes C-Suite support, Operations, Corporate Event Planning, Human Resources, Client Relations, and Project Management. Chasity is also involved with several volunteer organizations that include grief facilitation, bereavement support at local hospices, and leading several online grief resources. Her passion and heart are to serve and help others.

Chasity is two time published author that shares a collection of stories by widows across the globe. Each shares their own personal insight into the hidden and often unspoken challenges of losing a husband, including the emotional, mental and social shifts we are forced to reckon with in the aftermath. Visit here to read more and order a copy: Grief Diaries: Through the Eyes of a Widow and The Unwelcome Committee

Chasity met her late husband at the young age of eighteen. In June of 2009, her life would forever change when she lost her husband suddenly in a lake drowning at the age of thirty-four years old. Finding out who she was again, raising her son, and living life to the fullest even after this tragedy was a mission she was eager to accomplish. Darrell and Chasity have one son together who is a recent college graduate that is now working full-time and choreographing his next big adventure.

Chasity enjoys volunteering, traveling, sporting events, writing, and spending time with her family and friends.

Board Member and Newsletter Chair

Melissa Peoples

Melissa PL Peoples has been serving the public in leadership positions over the past 18 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.  Her experience includes leading process improvement efforts, training and developing, and building positive relationships. She is currently a certified Business Relationship Manager Professional and focuses on educating, engaging, and building professional partnerships.

Melissa lost her loving husband, Raymond, to a sudden heart attack in 2015. Grieving, child-rearing their one-year-old son at the time, and navigating “the new normal”  can be a lonely journey. Her hope is that serving on the Hope for Widows Foundation Board will make a greater impact for the widow community and the resources available. 

Melissa is action-focused. As a previous community blogger for Hope for Widows Foundation, Melissa hoped to provoke thought, share ideas, and encourage. Over the last year, she has served as the Newsletter Chair and desires to continue to help her sisters in the widow community. Grief is a process but moving forward is an opportunity.

Her passion is to encourage, motivate, and help others. She taps into her professional experience as well as all of the tools she learned on her journey of “the new normal”.  You can also find her on Instagram @Melissa_PL_P

Secretary and Social Media Assistant

Simone Garcia

Simone Garcia has worked for the Department of Treasury for over 10 years and holds a degree in Business Management. She is also the administrator at her church.  She also serves as one leader of The PBF Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry where they enrich the lives of women body, soul, and spirit, by inspiring and encouraging women to live in the fullness that God intended. 

Simone met her late husband Gregory in 1992 through a mutual friend and became best friends for over eighteen years. Simone and Gregory were married for four years and had no children. Their marriage was filled with an abundance of love and laughter. They shared a love of football, music, cooking, and Star Wars. Gregory dealt with many health issues which lead to his untimely death on Sunday, February 6, 2017. Being a sudden widow at the age of 42, Simone was lost and did not know how to navigate her first time dealing with grief. It was through a repost of an insightful meme her cousin, who also became a sudden widow, where Simone discovered Hope for Widows Foundation. Simone found that there were other women from all walks of life who were dealing with the same issues she was and that she was not alone. The Hope for Widows Foundation community became a refuge and helped her through her grief journey. Since the death of her late husband, Simone has been trying to find her purpose in her “new normal life”. Joining Hope for Widows Foundation would give an opportunity for her to share experiences, resources, and encouragement to fellow widows, especially to those who’ve never experienced grief before.

Bookkeeper

Paula Gleicher

Paula Gleicher Greenstreet started her career as a Software Engineer in the video manufacturing industry. After receiving her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 1993, she went into management, and then marketing. She met her soulmate, Joe, in 1997 when work moved her from Salt Lake City, Utah to Nevada City, California. They married three years later.

The Dot Com bust forced Paula to reinvent herself. With help, guidance, and support from Joe, she became a Real Estate Broker. In 2004, she and Joe merged businesses to form BroadStreet Financial Group. Ten years later, she realized she liked accounting more and became an Enrolled Agent. With Joe’s passing from Neuroendocrine Cancer on August 29, 2018, she pledged to carry on their accounting business in his honor and has continued to grow it with her five female employees.

Paula is no stranger to volunteer work. She was event chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for four years and served on the steering committee for an additional four years. She was a Community Ambassador for the American Cancer Society and has traveled the country speaking to lawmakers about the importance of cancer research funding.

Paula joined Early Risers Toastmasters in 2000 and achieved Distinguished Toastmaster status in 2011. She is still an active member. She served as Toastmasters District 39 Treasurer in 2011 and has served all the officers’ roles in her club – President, Vice President Education, Vice President Membership, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms.

Paula has two Rottweilers named Freddy and Barney, and two cats named Pebbles and Bam Bam. She loves visiting with her bonus family of three stepdaughters, three sons-in-law, and six grandchildren. She also enjoys gardening, reading, and more recently rediscovered her love of jigsaw puzzles.

When asked what most people do not know about her – she shared that even though she loved going Jeeping with Joe and their friends, she was usually scared spitless!


Blogging Community

Cheryl Barnes

Katherine Billings Palmer

Carla Duff

Ajai Blue-Saunders

Dena Benesh

Dawn Cole

Susan Kendal

Lisa Boone Bogacki

Blogger

Piper Rose

Laurel Snook

Layla Beth Munk

Dori Ann Dupré

Angie Bell

Jamie Foster

Stacy Feintuch

Nicole Jacquez

Teri Miner

Board Member and Community Blogger

Jacki Corta

Joyce Hishaw-Willis

Cheryl Barnes

Cheryl Barnes was born in Atlanta, Georgia and after several moves with her family, settled in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She attended college at Indiana University Bloomington, majoring in Public and Environmental Affairs Management. While she attended college, she laid eyes on Martin “Tony” Barnes and was completely lost. They became inseparable and were married on December 24th, 1991.  After five years of marriage, their first son, Malcolm, was born on New Year’s Eve, 1991. After Tony obtained his Master’s Degree in Social Work, the family moved to Orlando, Florida. Tony worked as a counselor, while Cheryl got her dream job working at Walt Disney World. Two years later, their second son, Miles, was born in July 2004. Cheryl left Disney and took a job in accounting at a property management company. Everything seemed to be going well for the family and Cheryl made plans to attend nursing school. However, in July 2011, Tony was diagnosed with end stage renal failure caused by lupus. For the next three years, Cheryl cared for her husband while taking care of the boys and working. Tony’s health deteriorated as a result of several complications until he passed away on August 29, 2014. Thus began her new journey as a widow and single parent.

Cheryl was devastated at the loss of her beloved Tony, but continued to work and care for their sons as she had before.  As a way to work through her grief, she started writing, at first, only for herself.  But, being encouraged by others, she began publishing her blog, “Widowness and Light.”  Along with writing and being involved with several widows groups on Facebook while raising her boys, she works as a training bookkeeper at an association management company. She is also a Board Member for Black Women Widowed Empowered.

Her hobbies are reading, attending Orlando Magic games, yoga, going to the beach, and just chilling with her boys.

Katherine Billings Palmer

On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.

Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.

After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Carla Duff

Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel.  When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary.  In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.

Ajai Blue-Saunders

Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and runs a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area.  She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015.  Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits. Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards.  She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love.

Dena Benesh

Dena’s life was forever changed on June 25, 2018, when she became suddenly redefined as a widow. A title she never thought she would have, or not have for at least another 40 years or more. Her healthy 43-year-old husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving her shocked, heart shattered and left, at age 41, to raise their precious 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter without him. Since gaining this new title, she is continually trying to figure out how to live this new life, and has leaned into her faith, has focused on being brave, and has taken head on all of the challenges she is now faced with in this new life. Dena is here to share her story as she is living it and to be honest and raw, providing insight into the life of a sudden widow with a full-time career and two young children. Dena learned the importance of what she has gained through living a life well lived with her beloved spouse, and she has been writing what is on her mind and in her heart, everything from the pain of losing a spouse suddenly, to focusing on gratefulness and being brave in this journey. She hopes to give others insight into what this journey looks like and provide thoughts on how she is managing through it all. And hopefully inspire some of her hope sister’s along the way.

You can read more and follow her on Instagram @suddenlyredefined or on her Facebook page Suddenly Redefined.

Dawn Cole

Dawn’s life was forever altered on December 6, 2018 when she got the call that her husband, Jeffrey, had passed away at his work. She quickly learned that Jeff died from a gunshot wound, and detectives determined that it was self-inflicted.  Dawn still struggles to wrap her brain around that fact. She will tell you that most days she doesn’t think about that part of it at all. Her husband is gone. The manner in which he died ultimately doesn’t matter. Gone is gone. He will forever be 46.

Jeff and Dawn started out as friends in the Fall of 1997.  They started to date in January of

1999.  On September 3rd, 2000, in front of a beautiful lake, Jeff asked Dawn to be his wife, lover and friend for the rest of his life.  She excitedly accepted, and on June 30th, 2001, they

became husband and wife.  Together, Jeff and Dawn had 3 children…Ali, Josh & Meghan.  During the majority of their 17 years of marriage, Dawn was a housewife and Jeff ran a fencing company.  The kind of fencing that keeps children and animals contained. Not the kind of fencing that uses a sword.

Dawn currently works as a secretary in the special education department of a school district.  She has a degree in Elementary Education, and she loves being able to provide support to teachers and staff.  In her free time, she can usually be found spending time with family and friends. Reading has been her passion since she was just a little girl, but since Jeff passed, she has found it hard to focus on reading.  While that is a negative change that has happened on her journey, one positive change is that she has been writing more. She tries to openly share on her personal blog, Dawning Light, with the hopes that it will help even just one other person.

For years, Dawn has been passionate about spreading joy to those around her.  She continues to be that way, and now she is very purposeful about trying to focus on the positive things even during a horrible situation.  She moves forward on this journey with her mind focused on continuing to honor Jeffrey, as well as trying to raise their three wonderful children in a way that will make him proud.  Her hope is to live a life that will allow her to see Jeff in Heaven. She wants to see his smile again and feel his arms around her. Of course, that will be after she hopefully hears her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Susan Kendal

Susan met her husband when she was only 14 and he was 15 in their hometown of Toronto, Canada. By 16, he was her one and only, and at the age of 21 they were married. They lived a life many would describe as the American (Canadian) dream. They were a family of 5, with a dog, their large, extended families close by and wonderful friends who completed their life.

On May 20, 2014, Susan’s world came crashing down. Her 54-year old husband passed unexpectedly of a heart attack as he was getting ready for work. The years since have been a whirlwind of emotion, trauma & joy. (yes, she said joy, thanks mostly to the birth of her grandchildren.) Prior to Covid-19, Susan experienced more isolation and tragedy through the loss of her dad & both of her brothers. She knew she had to make sense of all the grief and instinctively understood that volunteering to help others would also be vital for my healing. Subsequently, she has completed a coaching program and has been invited to guide caregivers thru a provincial initiative.

When Covid-19 left her even more alone than she could ever imagine, she took the leap and began: Evolve for Widows. Its purpose is to encourage widows, once able to move past the debilitating period of grief, to reclaim their lives within the comfort and encouragement of a positive sisterhood. You can also find Susan and her organization, Evolve here:  Facebook, Website and Instagram

Lisa Boone Bogacki

Lisa Boone Bogacki is a solo mom of three, a physical therapist, canine and equine massage therapist, widow, daughter, sister, and friend. She was blessed with 17 years spent with her very own Prince Charming, only to have her healthy, active husband die in his sleep 3 days after their 16th wedding anniversary. That was eleven years ago, and she shares it still seems very surreal.  There is no “What to Expect When Your 42-Year-Old Husband Dies in His Sleep” manual, but hopefully through the magic of the internet, she hopes we can all support and help each other. 

Blogger

Piper Rose

Piper is a 32-year-old widow and mother of two old souls. She, a creative and headstrong woman, and her husband, an adventurous mountain-loving man, met in their late teenage years through mutual friends. Over the course of a couple of years, they developed a fun and adventurous friendship and eventually couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love. Finally, after marriage and almost a decade together they had their first child, a boy, and daddy’s little adventure buddy. 18 months later they became pregnant with their second child, another little boy to adventure with. Halfway through the pregnancy, her husband unexpectedly took his life in March of 2020. Since then, in the continued midst of devastatingly deep and heart-wrenching grief, Piper has bravely given birth in the middle of a pandemic, enrolled back in university, become a student of reiki, and is also studying mediumship –  a skillset her husband’s spirit seems to have awakened within her. A transformational part of her healing journey has been recognizing how very close the other side is, close enough to even touch. Her goal is to help guide struggling and grieving souls through spiritual council and connection to their crossed-over loved ones using psychology, spirituality, philosophy, energy work, and mediumship.

Laurel Snook

Laurel became a young widow on October 2, 2020, her husband Matt had a heart attack he was only 37. Matt was a juvenile diabetic and they always knew he would die young but she never thought that she could be a widow at 32. Navigating grief with anxiety, regrets and guilt have been a struggle for Laurel. They had gotten into a fight days before he died and they had talked about divorce.  One of the things that helped her the most is finding other widows who understood the pain she was feeling. In February she decided to start writing her story. Self-care is something else she started to do daily and art has become her outlet to get what she is feeling out which she shares on her Instagram. Being a young widow comes with its own challenges but we are not alone in this journey.
You can find her on Instagram @HealingPorcupine or her personal blog link- Healingporcupine.com.

Layla Beth Munk

Layla Beth Monk is a blogger & author who was thrust into this widowhood journey abruptly and tragically on February 11, 2018. Her husband of 12 years had ended his pain once and for all. She soon made the decision that she would not let his final decision define the rest of her life or their daughter’s life, so with her sense of humor at the helm, she started writing about her newfound station in life. Grief waves still get to her, and probably always will, but with the help of her fellow widows as well as my friends and family, she has been able to realize her dream of becoming a published author! Layla is so grateful to Hope For Widows Foundation for providing this level of support to her, and so many others! Layla has two amazing children, one who is grown and one who is almost grown. She lives in eastern Oregon and has a wellness & beauty background. Layla enjoys writing poetry, watching anime, and homeschooling her daughter.

Her blog can be found at laylabethmunk.medium.com and her debut novella, 24 Hours in Vegas, is available on Amazon.

Dori Ann Dupré

Dori lost her husband to colon cancer in September 2016, devastating her and their two daughters. She is honored to serve (once again) as a contributing blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation.  Dori is the author of two award-winning novels of literary fiction, Scout’s Honor (2016) and the Amazon #1 bestseller, GOOD BUDDY (2019). Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry are published in several anthologies. Connect with Dori at Amazon.com/author/dorianndupre, Twitter @DoriAnnDupre, Facebook @AuthorDoriAnnDupre, and Instagram @doridj.

Angie Bell

Angie Bell was born in Georgia but raised in Florida to where she recently returned after six years in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a former teacher who loves hiking, photography, and writing, often combining all three.

After planning for several years, working on a way to live on a shoestring budget, Angie’s husband of 41 years put in for early retirement so they could move back home. They put their house on the market and had a contract within four days. Less than two weeks later her husband was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. They decided to transfer his care and move back to Jacksonville, Florida, renting a furnished apartment and hoping for a miracle. One month later he was gone. After her third move in less than a year, Angie is now in Tampa where her grandchildren live, trying to find her way in her new life. God, in His mercy, has put numerous other widows in her life and a new empathy for this sisterhood she never would have chosen.

Jamie Foster

 Jamie Foster resides in Daphne, Alabama with her daughter and two grand puppies. On January 10, 2019 at 10:30 p.m. her life was shattered as the man that God kept for her suffered a heart attack in his sleep. A fairytale that began so beautifully just three years prior ended in tragedy. She made a statement two years before she started dating Rev. Kenneth Foster, as he preached a sermon at her church. She said to a friend, “I am going to marry Rev. Foster one day, and make him a very good wife”. Two years later, after about 4 dinner dates, Kenneth told her; that God showed him that she was his wife.  They married a few months later on November 28, 2015.   In three years, they lived out their wedding vows richer, poorer, sickness, health, and till death do us part.

She never imagined that she could feel so much pain in her entire body!! The love of her life the man she prayed for is now gone. She immediately began to question everything she knew, everything she believed in.

After Kenneth’s death, she had nothing else to hold on to but the Faith that they talked about, the Faith that he preached about. The road is a difficult one, but she pushes forward. On this journey, she has come in contact with women all over the world who share the same grief and the same pain that she does. She started to find comfort and joy in knowing that others understood her heartache and pain.

In 2021, she left her full-time job to focus on her Mental Health. She became the CEO of Foster & Foster H.R. Solutions, an Independent Insurance Agent, a blogger of Foundation of Truths, a Motivational Speaker, and she is penning the pages to a book that is long overdue.

Jamie always knew that her gift, was her powerful voice and she is walking in her purpose. It is to help encourage, motivate, inspire, and lift up all of her fellow sisters as we are all on this journey together. She lives each day no matter how hard, by the words of Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans he has for me”.

Stacy Feintuch

Stacy Feintuch was a happily married mom of two adorable little girls. That all changed 10 years ago when her husband died of a sudden heart attack. After a few very difficult years, she learned how to solo-parent and raised two amazing young women on her own. Five years ago, she became a writer when she started a blog about her experiences. She is now thriving and in a happy relationship. Stacy hopes to inspire other women to move forward in their own time while also keeping their memories alive. She can be found on Instagram at @thewidowwearspink

Nicole Jacquez

Nicole “Nikki” Jacquez started her journey in July 2020 when her husband, Jeremy, was diagnosed with stage one pancreatic cancer.  Jeremy  fought bravely but lost his battle in January 2021. He left behind Nikki, their daughter Mia, and countless friends and family. Becoming a widow at 29, Nikki has made it a priority to help educate and have open discussions about the unexpected in life. Nikki has made it a priority to live life to its fullest and to keep having as many adventures as she and Jeremy would have had together.  Nikki is learning to live her next chapter in life and is hoping to help other widows be able to do the same.

Teri Miner

Teri’s dance with grief actually began over five years before she watched her beloved husband of almost 37 years take his last breath and enter Heaven’s door on October 6, 2019. A terminal degenerative neurological disease steadily and increasingly attacked nearly every major system of his body and transformed him from a vibrant, brilliant, strong and caring man to a bedfast invalid at the end. She was devoted to caring for him and doing her best to make the most of every minute they had left, to love him and pray for a miracle.

 She thought she knew what her future held, but she had no idea. Losing him was the first time she experienced a close and personal loss. He was the love of her life. The onslaught of the pandemic with its reign of fear-mongering, forced isolation and separation entering the scene and disrupting or destroying whatever sense of “normal” that remained, just added insult to injury.

 Her faith in God is the sustaining force keeping her fighting spirit to find and share hope in a bright future. Her heart’s desire is to walk beside her fellow widows toward a path of promise and healing. She wants to offer encouragement and hope so others can find the strength to take that next breath or next step. She recently started her own blog, https://widowwhispers.blogspot.com/, to share with other widows not only the struggles and hardships of widowhood, but the triumphs. Her hope is found in leaning on the Lord Jesus to enjoy a God inspired future anchored in expectation He will bring us to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Board Member and Community Blogger

Jacki Corta

Jacki Corta is a motivational speaker, intuitive life, and grief coach along with the founder and CEO of Strength > Struggle™. The brand she discovered after traveling the journey of cancer with her husband. She started the Strength>Struggle™ crusade, helping others find their inner strength during some of the scariest times. In 2014, her husband, Douglas was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and 20 months later passed away, giving Jacki a new title… Widow. It is Jacki’s mission to share her story with the world and how it can positively impact others in whatever they may face. It is a story of unexplainable strength in life’s most challenging storms, overcoming adversity and finding hope while traveling the difficult path her life took.

It is her ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable that connects with her clients and audiences. Jacki believes her purpose here is to impact as many souls as possible showing them that through even the darkest days there is a glimpse of light to grab onto for them to find their strength. Jacki will empower, challenge, and give you a new outlook on your own story.

She is a mother of three adult girls and a Mimi to two beautiful granddaughters. You can follow more of her story and inspiration on Instagram @jackicorta or listen to her podcast Jacki Has a Voice on Spotify.

Joyce Hishaw-Willis

Joyce was born and raised in Oklahoma and is the youngest of sixteen children. She has worked in the education and nonprofit industries for over 15 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

In the summer of 1983, at the age of sixteen, Joyce met her husband and soulmate Frank and soon after started a family. They were married for over 38 wonderful and adventurous years.

Joyce is a mother to two adult sons, a grandmother to a feisty Leo granddaughter, and a transplant wife and widow after Frank passed away due to COVID-19 complications on August 25, 2021 after receiving a kidney transplant four years earlier. He died exactly one week before her birthday.

Joyce’s writings on grief, love, loss, and the beautiful mess in between are an intimate look at life without her husband Frank and how his unexpected and untimely death showed her that nothing in this world lasts forever, even true love, and that life can change in one tragic instant.

You can read more of Joyce’s writings about her beloved Frank on Instagram @tofrankwithlove