Empowering Widows to Be Leaders Changes Lives Globally
I was widowed at age 37 on February 14, 2000. My kids were two and four years old.
We were in a hit and run car accident that took my husband’s life. I survived. I discovered that grief services for widows last around one to two years. Finding a mentor beyond that time proved to be challenging. It took me 10 years to find someone who I could look up to — a person who had rebuilt her life and raised her children while maintaining a career after her loss.
Ten years is too long for a widow to suffer while trying to find inspiration, motivation, education and understanding.
In 2005, I shared my struggles and fears on a TLC TV show called Shalom in the Home. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, helped me to see how stuck I was in my life and that I needed to “bury” some things from the past in order to make space for restoration; in essence, not to see my life as a tragedy, but instead to choose life and become the inspiration I was looking for.
Not long after that, the Oprah Show picked up my story. Widows from around the country contacted me and asked me to mentor them. I felt like I was the very last person who wanted to be used to empower widows. I didn’t even think I could empower myself as a struggling solo parent mom. I didn’t want to be in this club.
My nonprofit is the fulfillment of a promise I made to Oprah backstage when she asked me to do something good for others with my empowering story. I had no idea what that would be at the time. I was told I was an everyday hero, but I did not see myself that way. It took another five years after being on her show before I felt like I was my own hero and strong enough to do something for others.
In 2011, I approached two local churches to launch Modern Widows Club, but the churches said they felt there were not enough young widows to start. So I began mentoring two widows in my home. I started with zero funds, and only a willingness to help lessen someone’s suffering.
Through social media, even more ladies began to find Modern Widows Club on Facebook. Many of those ladies were widowed leaders and flew to meet me and ask if I’d train them. Our first chapter launched in Kansas City and we now serve more than 30,000 ladies online and at our 24 national chapters across the country. We have over 250 cities on a wait list with women who want to lead these chapters. We cannot keep up with the requests!