“In memory of our dear, dear friend, Heidi”, from the Founder and Executive Director of 1in6: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of my dear friend and one of 1in6’s closest allies, Heidi Sommer. Last year, I wrote a letter that summarized my feelings, our feelings, about our great loss. A year later, the loss is felt ever so deeply, so I’d like to reprint the letter.
Today I hope that you will indulge me and allow me to speak from my heart on a very personal subject, the passing of our dear, dear friend Heidi Sommer.
I’ve known Heidi for 24 years, having met her for the very first time when we were doing outreach together to homeless kids on the streets of Hollywood. It’s been over these last 24 years that I’ve grown to admire and love her deeply. I’ve never known anyone with a greater capacity to love another human being, especially the ‘unloveable’ of our world. Her compassion and empathy for others is humbling.
I had the great honor to work alongside her at My Friend’s Place, and also the SCV Youth Project, watching and learning from her as she would serve the most needy, never with a ‘catch’ or hint of wanting anything in return…just the pure joy of serving.
When the idea of 1in6 began to percolate in the minds of those of us around at the very beginning, Heidi took that jumbled mess of an idea and put form to it, gave it meaning and articulated that meaning in writing. She wrote our first and every strategic plan and she wrote every year-end report we ever proudly published. Heidi wrote the first and every subsequent grant proposal we’ve ever submitted, raising many hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of our work. She was able to breathe life into every idea (and shoot down the bad ones) and find support for them.
Heidi is more 1in6 than anyone else on the team. 1in6 is more Heidi than anyone else on the team.
There’s great sadness in losing her to the cancer that she fought over the last ten years…but…there’s great joy in remembering what we found in Heidi. We found a capacity to love deeply, to laugh heartily, to be rigorously honest, tenaciously focused on our task at hand…and dare I say…some of us found ourselves and our purpose thanks to Heidi.
As if we did not have enough reason to commit ourselves to the critical work of 1in6, we can now add this: we dedicated all of 2014 to the memory of our dear, dear friend, Heidi Sommer. We dedicate today to Heidi’s memory, and the reminder of how her commitment to our work and those we serve live on.
Founder, Executive Director