Sweet Nectar Society provides comfort for families of children with diseases
Jan 22, 2016 02:54PM
“Sometimes, a butterfly doesn’t know the beauty of its own wings.”
It’s the phrase my publisher used when she asked me to write a story about my sister, Carrie Miranda, and the organization she co-founded with Brittany Wilbur, Sweet Nectar Society.
It is true that my sister and her co-founder, like butterflies, have little cognizance of the immensely difficult and emotionally demanding path that they have undertaken. Rather, they are driven by empathy and love for the children and families that are impacted by their organization.
Sweet Nectar Society’s mission is to provide comfort to the families of children who are affected by serious illness, disability or injury through photography and community outreach.
The simple and humble mission that graces the front page of their website cannot articulate the impact their work has done for the families of children who are experiencing the most difficult moments of their young lives. It cannot express the grief and despair that so many of their clientele experience when they realize their children are undertaking a life or death struggle.
And yet, the beautiful and vibrant pictures that these photographers capture don’t focus on grief or despair; every bright and colorful picture captures the happiness and joy that each one of these children have brought to their families, even when their lives are cut tragically short by cancer, or other life threatening diseases.
A few years ago, shortly after I heard that a fellow lawyer’s young son was battling acute myeloid leukemia, my sister started talking about her latest “Sweetie,” (the term the organization uses for all their clients), a little boy named Hendrix.
I could tell that, like so many of her clients, he and his family had captured her heart. Among the many beautiful and joyous pictures that Sweet Nectar Society was able to capture, a picture of his parents, kissing his sweet, happy face remain permanent in my memory of how I perceive this child I never met.
When I heard that Hendrix (affectionately referred to by his family as “Hendo”) had died, I, like so many others that knew about his situation, felt helpless.
In those moments, when so many people don’t know how to comfort a family that’s experienced such a tragic loss, my sister, Brittany Wilbur and Sweet Nectar Society do.
They enlarge their best picture for the funeral or memorial service and send it to the family. They attend their services, they offer their assistance, and they post a memorial on their website and Facebook, sharing the story of the family to their many followers. They do their best to remember and celebrate the birthdays of their clients, long after they pass.
They advocate for people to become part of the bone marrow registry. But more than that, they celebrate with their families when they receive good news and they grieve and remember the happiest times these children had with their families when they don’t. In those pervasive moments of helplessness, my sister and Brittany, as representatives of Sweet Nectar Society, quietly do their most impactful work.
And after Hendrix’s death, it was my sister who reached out to Hendrix’s family and invited them to our family get together at Christmas. It was my sister and Brittany who turned clients into family friends. It was my sister and Brittany, who worked with Hendrix’s parents, Art and Roze Wille, to organize the Sweet Eats Program in memory of their son.
Sweet Eats provides a stocked kitchen space at Valley Children’s Hospital for the families of children admitted to the oncology department. They provide restaurant meals, snacks, gift cards, groceries, laundry services and the other needs of the families.
Sweet Nectar Society’s story is as much a story about loss as it is about life. It is as much about grief as it is about hope. While some of Sweet Nectar Society clients did not survive their medical battles, many of Sweet Nectar Society’s clients will. And it is that hope that drives the organization and it’s many community outreach programs.
With hope in mind, last month, the organization celebrated a Day of Sweetness, surprising clients and their families with thoughtful gifts. Expressions of gratitude and pictures of smiling children graced their Facebook page that day, and this time, it was the families of these children who were the photographers, bringing attention to the happy moments in the lives of Sweet Nectar’s beloved “Sweeties.”
Sweet Nectar Society continues to be a catalyst for happy memories, even in the face of adversity.
Sweet Nectar Society’s services depend heavily on donations. In addition to collecting monetary donations, this holiday, the organization in conjunction with the Sweet Eats program, is holding a food drive to stock the Sweet Eats kitchen at Children’s Hospital.
For more information, or to donate visit: http://sweetnectarsociety.org/make-a-difference.
Written by Amy Guerra.