After Her Mother Died of Cancer, This Woman Launched a Charity
As part of our ongoing Mother’s Day series celebrating the unbreakable bond between moms and their children, Your Daily Dish is featuring amazing stories that highlight that special relationship.
When Sarah LaFave was in her first week of high school, she suffered a tragic loss. She lost her beloved mother Lori LaFave to breast cancer in 2003, after a long struggle with the disease.
“When my mom was sick, it was challenging to maintain a sense of normalcy in our family and our household — the house still needed to be cleaned, food still need to be bought and cooked, and the lawn still need to be mowed, even while we were all hyper-focused on the more important issue: her health,” Sarah told Your Daily Dish. “We had a wonderful network of family, friends and neighbors who helped, and resources that a lot of people don’t have when going through a similar situation. Even with all that going for us, it was hard, so I have always had an interest in supporting families living with chronic illnesses.”
Several years after Lori’s passing, Sarah Lafave launched a charitable organization named Lori’s Hands. The organization’s name honors her mother and allows other people to understand what she went through.
“When I started college at the University of Delaware four years later, I was meeting so many people and making new friends who, unlike my high school friends, hadn’t known my mom,” Sarah told Your Daily Dish. “I didn’t want for them to just know that she’d passed away, and to know nothing positive about her. My mom was compassionate and she had incredible intuition — she always knew just the thing that would make someone’s difficult day a little bit better. She never wanted attention for her generosity, and didn’t make a big show of the things she did to help other people. It’s with that same humble spirit that our Lori’s Hands students now serve their community.”
The organization initially started as a way to aid those with chronic illness in their community.
According top the group’s website, Lori’s Hands has since grown and evolved.
Currently, the organization strives to, “create a meaningful volunteer experience for college students and to improve quality of life for people living with chronic illnesses, in the context of service learning, in hopes of also transforming students’ understanding of chronic illness and community health.”
Volunteers who work with Lori’s Hands assist people who have illnesses with shopping, yard work, and other chores. For those suffering from debilitating diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, or ALS, the organization provides in-home care.
According to the group, “In both cases, their (the students) volunteer experiences are life-changing parts of their academic careers, preparing them to be compassionate, informed professionals.”
“I love that these days, a lot of people hear about my mom and her life through the work of our student volunteers,” Sarah told Your Daily Dish. “Instead of just knowing that my mom has died, people know a little bit about her caring personality. Lori’s Hands doesn’t tell the whole story of my mom — it doesn’t bring to life her wit, her ingenuity, her love for the outdoors, or her tendency toward starting a creative project late at night — but Lori’s Hands does give people a glimpse into my mom’s compassion and her knack for giving the right kind of help when it was most needed.”
Sarah LaFave currently serves as the president of the Lori’s Hands board. She is currently enrolled in the the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Master of Public Health Program. Information on how to volunteer and aid Lori’s Hands can be found on the organization’s website.
Special thanks to Help a Reporter Out.