Avery's Garden A 501C3 Organization!
June 17, 2016 will always be a day that is embedded in my heart. It is the day that my first and only son, Avery, was born into this world and grew his wings too soon. This will be the third year I will have to walk this Earth without my son beside me. The pain of losing a child is something that no person ever wants to go through. To say that my journey has testing my very limits would be an understatement. I have gone through deep depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and have wanted to give up more times than I can count. But in the end, there are only a few things keeping me focused. My baby. My family. The families I have met along the way. And my vision of making Avery’s Garden a Nonprofit Organization that is focused on using art and creative grief to service my community.
Along the way, I met a girl that told me that if I couldn’t find my purpose, then to find my passion, because it was my passion that would lead me back to my purpose. I have often reminded myself of that over the last few years when things seemed to be at a new all-time low. Every time I felt like I hit a new rock bottom I would remind myself that there is a bigger plan for me…that I am not merely here to exist. That I am here to survive the unthinkable and to find a way to shine anyways.
I have often relied on my spiritual faith to get me through the desperation. After dealing with three years of infertility and secondary loss, I would ask “why me” or “why did all of this happen to ME”. Well, I have come to the realization that sometimes in this life people’s strengths are often disguised until truly tested beyond measure. I have known all my life that I was different, that I loved differently, felt emotion differently and believed in things that those around me simply did not understand. So here I am, an empath, a healer, an artist, a writer, and so much more…not knowing what to do with herself. But that is about to change.
In October of 2016, I began using my art to help other people. My first ever project was something I called “Leaves of Love” where I celebrated the lives of approximately 20 babies that grew wings to soon. I connected with families from all of the world and quickly realized how rewarding it was to give kindness back to hearts that hurt like mine. In December 2016, I launched the “Reclaimed Memories Christmas Tree” where I drew personalized ornaments with signs and symbols of our angels and at that time completed a little over 100 ornaments. In January 2017, I started Avery’s Garden Grief Journal and to date have completed nearly 400 drawings that were customized to celebrate things that made individual families find peace and comfort through my art. Seven Avery’s Garden Coloring Books have been published to date and are available on Amazon worldwide. And lastly, countless hours have been spent on smaller projects, coaching, communicating and lifting others.
In January of 2018, I started the process of creating Avery’s Garden, Inc. My vision was to create a Nonprofit that helped others along side me through this journey. I wanted people to know that I was serious about this mission and needed my own personal validation that I was legit. After hours and hours or research I filed for my EIN number, and then came the hard part…applying for my 501 (c)(3) tax exemption status with the IRS. I had to write my own Bylaws and complete an application process that often left me frazzled and confused. But, I finished and sent it off. August 6, 2018, the IRS received my request. Since then, I have waited…waited…and waited some more. And honestly, a huge part of me was convinced that I somehow didn’t do something right. That there would be some small detail that caught me up and I would be rejected. So, I started telling myself that I was a failure. That I would fail getting this exemption status just like I failed my son. And, like most can assume, the depression came back. Every time I got home, I would check my mailbox thinking that was the day I would get the news. And when it didn’t arrive, I would feel the same as waiting for a rainbow baby that hasn’t come in three years. Sad. Alone. And yearning for more from my complicated life.
Yesterday, April 4, 2019, I called to the IRS again to check my status. I wasn’t hopeful calling because it was now well past the 180 days that they tell you is the standard review window. I had called in the past and thought that the same thing was going to happen. That it still had not been reviewed, or worse. Instead, while I was on hold, I closed my eyes and prayed that this was finally it. That I would finally get to put this to rest and know where my future was headed. I rationalized what I would do if I got the bad news…or how amazing it would feel if I passed my review and then the operator came back to the line. “Our records indicate that you submitted your application on August 6, 2018….(I breathe deeply)…and as of 2 days ago the file was closed…(another deep breathe in)…and your application was granted in your favor. You were approved”.
I did it. Avery’s Garden is now officially a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.
From here, I am going to let the shock settle a little and then start the process in raising funds for my ultimate dream of creating Avery’s Garden Tree House Retreat. A nature center and tree house retreat for bereaved families to go to for peace and tranquility.
For those of you that have been a part of this process from the beginning, I want to say a sincere thank you for everything. All the support and love has gotten me through some of the hardest parts of my life. I made a plan, worked it little by little and am proof that dreams can come true.