Maternal Instinct

Greenville nonprofit Let There Be Mom ensures a lasting voice for terminally ill parents

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By Heidi Coryell Williams
MAY 1, 2011

Greenville nonprofit Let There Be Mom ensures a lasting voice for terminally ill parents


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and every child’s
unimaginable loss.

But when a dying parent faces the prospect of leaving young children behind forever, Let There Be Mom is there. There, like an arsenal of cherished friends and sisters to do what the mortally sick cannot—even if they had been given years to prepare for death, much less months.

Let There Be Mom’s volunteers don’t replace the irreplaceable, or even begin to fill the bottomless sorrow of losing a parent or spouse. But the Greenville organization, founded in 2007, helps make some of the small things right again. And, over time, those little treasures add up to a lifetime of cherished memories. A framed picture on a wall. A silver thumbprint charm tucked beneath a shirt. Reflection gardens to visit, memory quilts to curl up in, and recorded voices that will never go silent.
Meet Kipra Anderson, founder and president of Let There Be Mom. Her story isn’t one of battling sickness or even of losing a parent of her own. It was simply a moment and months of prayerful consideration that inspired her to found a nonprofit that calms—if only briefly—the hearts and minds of dying parents who must leave behind young families.

About five years ago, Kipra, a mother of three school-age children, was in her living room cleaning, when a scenario slipped into her thoughts: “What if I were dying?” Breast cancer, brain cancer, ALS, lymphoma. What if she had months to live and a lifetime of memories to preserve? She was only “imagining the scenario,” and “there was so much to organize, to say, to plan, to make happen,” Kipra recalls. “I left the dust rag and the broom and immediately went to look for an organization that would handle this.” There wasn’t one.

Let There Be Mom serves the sick parent with hundreds of volunteers who step in by the dozens and assemble the mementos and communications that extend throughout the lives of surviving children. Letters for graduation days, wedding days, and the birth of a first child are penned and sealed. One client has been paired with a published author to write a book. Another was provided with studio time so she could record songs for her children.

Families usually find Let There Be Mom through hospice referrals, friends, and school guidance counselors. They are given three months and $3,000 worth of services—everything from birthday parties to keepsakes that can be gifted now and well into the future. “We never stop praying for a miracle, and we hope they never stop fighting for their lives,” Kipra says. “We tell them, they’re not giving up, but giving a gift to their children. It’s about preserving memories for any length of time they have left here.”

Let There Be Mom, (864) 608-9819, lettherebemom.org


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