Here’s a bittersweet follow-up to my prior post and invitation to write to change the world.
Rest In Peace Suzy Yehl Marta. You made a tremendous difference, healing children across the country and around the world. May your example inspire others.
Susan Yehl Marta, Founder of Rainbows For All Children.
Founder of the World’s Largest Grief Support Charity Passes Away
Suzy Yehl Marta, founder of Rainbows For All Children™, Helped Millions of Youth Grieve and Grow after Their Own Losses
Suzy Yehl Marta, founder of Rainbows For All Children, and author of Healing the Hurt, Restoring the Hope. passed away on Jan. 13, 2013 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Millions of children worldwide have Suzy to thank for building an international support network to help them through their most challenging life struggles, whether they were grieving the loss of a parent, a divorce, or some other life-altering event, such as incarceration of a loved one or having a parent deployed overseas.
Suzy’s mission to heal the hearts of children started in the Chicago area more than 30 years ago after going through her own divorce. As a single mom and working several part-time jobs, Suzy knew her sons were hurting just as much as she was ─ and her divorce was to blame. Frustrated by professionals who told her kids were resilient and discovering a void in outreach to grieving children, Suzy gathered other parent volunteers and launched weekend retreats for grieving youth through her local church and the Chicago archdiocese. In three years, 800 kids came – each one broken-hearted, angry, confused and isolated in pain.
Holding these children in her arms, and wiping away their tears, Suzy encouraged them to share and then (more importantly) listened to what they had to say. This vivid understanding of the need to reach hurting children compelled Suzy to write a curriculum that was later picked up in three Chicago-area schools. Suzy named the program “Rainbows” to note the great promise of life after one comes through the storm of hurt and grief.
The effectiveness of the program coupled with the great needs of hurting children has moved Rainbows far beyond the Chicago area. Nearly 30 years since those weekend retreats, Rainbows is now in all 50 states and 18 countries. All told, Rainbows has helped more than 2.7 million children grieve and grow after loss.
Suzy received numerous media honors including Family Circle’s “Women Who Make a Difference,” USA Today’s “People Who Make a Difference in the USA,” Newsweek’s “A New American Hero,” Woman’s Day’s “Outstanding Woman Award” and NBC’s Jefferson Award. Suzy also was the recipient of several organizational awards, including but not limited to the Mercedes Mentor Award, American Cardinals Encouragement Award from Catholic University of America and the Distinguished Service to Families Award from the Illinois Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2011, Ireland’s President, Mary McAleese, honored 40 Rainbows directors and Suzy at Áras an Uachtaráin, Ireland’s White House.