Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Drake Ross Pettit was a little boy who took giving to heart,and his spirit continues to give after his death. Drake loved to share with his three siblings; he was funny, loved buzz words, and he enjoyed inviting people to his house to play! “Sharing is caring” was a motto Drake lived by. After Drake died when he was four years old, his family looked for needs to fill in the community as they wanted to do something to honor the memory of this giving boy. As the family grieved, they discovered there were some community supports in place for grieving parents yet there were no supports for grieving siblings. In 2013, Dreams from Drake was born, a non-profit that “provides local children and teens with various forms of support needed to move forward while experiencing the confusion and grief associated with the loss of a sibling or parent.” I had the honor to talk with Haverly Erskine, Drake’s proud aunt, who co-founded Dreams fromDrake with her sister Jaime Pettit, Drake’s proud mom..
“A smile is a light in your window that tells others there is a sharing, caring person inside.” Denis Waitley
Drake had a smile that lit up the room. As his family struggled to cope after his death from their unthinkable loss, Drake’s mom, dad, aunt and other family members There was community support in place for the adults who are grieving, yet for the children, like Drake’s siblings, nothing existed to help them. Haverly and Jaime created a “dream” list of the services and activities they wanted to have in place to support grieving children and teenagers. They recognized that support for the children would also help support the family. When grief consumes the adults, it is difficult to have the energy to care for the emotional needs of the siblings who are also grieving. The Dreams from Drake dream list included a bereavement camp for children and teenagers, books and meals to help the families during this time, and monthly “Healing Circles” that would provide a therapy along with a fun activity to help children realize they are not alone in their grieving and give them a space to still be kids.
“Remember the lives we lost and heal together.” Dreams from Drake
Dreams from Drake held its first Camp Dreams, a one-day bereavement camp for children and teenagers, in Rochester, NY, in 2014. The following year and every year since, they partner with Pittsford Youth Services and the University of Rochester Medicine Hospice. Working together they created Camp Dreams/Camp Heartstrings, a three-day bereavement camp which has a balance of comprehensive therapeutic parts and pure kid fun. Healing Circles of Hope is a monthly support group facilitated by a licensed mental health practitioner. The therapeutic portion is followed with a fun activity from foam darts , painting and forest meditation.
“Your memory lives forever in my heart as I continue on the path life set before me.” Unknown
Each family connected with Dreams from Drake is sent a card and small gift at the time of the deceased loved one’s angelversary. It’s important to the Dreams from Drake team that the family knows that no matter how many years have passed, someone is always thinking of them. Happy Hearts for the Holidays is where Dreams from Drake partners with the St. Peter’s Kitchen in Rochester, NY to provide gifts to underserved families. Haverly shared that Happy Hearts has grown in the most beautiful way with more businesses and individuals helping to collect gifts and donate money for these families. They created the Happy Hearts program to honor Drake’s “sharing is caring” spirit during the holidays. Dreams from Drake also provides information about grieving materials, books, and other community supports. As this non-profit continues to evolve, they are always looking at ways to continue to support grieving families and grieving children the best way they can. All services are provided at no cost to the families thanks to the generous support of sponsors and donations.
“The more we share, the more we have.” Leonard Nimoy
Haverly shared that all of the people they have met through Dreams from Drake programs, have provided comfort.for them as well. In doing something to make the best of a horrific situation there has been healing for Drake’s family. They see teamwork does make the dream work from the collective camaraderie of other non-profits who support one another, to the dedication and support of the Dreams from Drake Board of Directors, to the financial and emotional support of other community members. The Dreams from Drakes families are now extended families to Haverly and Jaime. The bonds of caring and support for one another is strong and filled with love. Haverly shared it is important to say the name of the person who died, and to provide grieving families with the space to share memories of their loved ones if they choose to do so.Doing this helps with healing, helps with comfort, and helps to keep their loved one’s memory alive. For grieving families, Dreams from Drake offers a judgment free place. Referrals come from word of mouth and families reaching out. Dreams from Drake sends families a welcome kit and families are under no obligation to participate in anything unless they want to. This organization understands everyone grieves differently and is there to provide comfort and support with open arms and lots of love.
It is with honor we shine the Kindness Champion Spotlight on the remarkable Dreams from Drake. Where the legacy of four year old Drake lives on by sharing, and caring, for children and families who have experienced the death of a loved one. We thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world.
For more information on Dreams From Drake here is their website: https://dreamsfromdrake.org/