There are many ways for people to cope with loss, and for Beverly and George Savage, coping meant helping others in similar situations.
“I had heard this saying, grief is love bottled up, and for me once you no longer have that child to share your love with, to care for and worry about, you need to put that into something else,” Beverly Savage said.
Her son Andrew “Drew” Savage, 20, was one of four people killed in a car accident on Union Street in Springfield, Mass., in January. The alleged driver and sole survivor is facing motor vehicle homicide charges.
Now, along with Andrew’s siblings and a small group of friends, the Savages have created The Andrew Project, a nonprofit organization that provides immediate aid to families who have experienced an unexpected loss of life.
“We provide families with either a care package or make a donation to a GoFundMe account or to a charitable organization if the family requests that,” said Jana Allen, a close family friend and one of the founding members of the nonprofit.
So far the group has reached out to eight families after reading or hearing about their loved ones’ untimely and unexpected death in the news.
“For the most part the families we have reached out to have been receptive to it,” Allen said.
As The Andrew Project develops, its founders want to make a larger impact on families across Western Massachusetts, and at some point all over the country.
Imani Allen, Jana’s daughter, is the group’s creative services director. She is the owner of Priceless Faith Productions, a multimedia production company. She has used her skills to set up the website and Facebook page for The Andrew Project so that people who are interested in learning more can easily find out about the nonprofit.
Pamela Smith, Jana’s Allen’s mother, has taken on the task of delivering the care packages.
“Having experienced loss myself and being around people who have lost someone, one thing I’ve noticed is that there are always people coming in and out of your home and there are a lot of paper products that are used,” she said.
The care packages contain paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, trash bags, napkins and other things to make it easier to deal with the daily activities of feeding a family when cooking and doing dishes are the last thing on anyone’s mind.
Beyond care packages, the group is looking to collaborate with local community service organizations and provide scholarships for high school students. Already the organization has awarded four scholarships to Springfield high school students who have experienced an unexpected loss.
“That’s something we want to stress. This is for families who have experienced an unexpected and sudden loss of life,” Smith said.
The organization is hoping to get people interested in volunteering their time or offering their services to create care packages, participate in community service events and more.
As the group’s mission statement reads: “Through this, Andrew’s legacy will surpass a lifetime.”
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