Hernandez is the founder of the Simi Valley based non-profit Soaring Spirits International

(Simi Valley, CA) August 13, 2021 – It is no surprise to those who know her that Michele Neff Hernandez was named a CNN Hero for 2021. Hernandez is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Soaring Spirits International (SSI), whose mission is simple – to connect widowed people with each other and offer them resources, community, and hope for rebuilding their lives after loss.

Each CNN Hero is featured in special episodes called This Week’s CNN Hero. Hernandez’s episode begins streaming August 12 on CNN’s website at CNN Heroes, with postings on the network’s social media platforms and airing on the network through Sunday, August 15. The episode highlights Soaring Spirits’ services to COVID widowed people and features a COVID widow who connected with Michele personally when no other support organization answered her call. The episode also includes an extensive interview with Hernandez, plus highlights SSI’s signature program – Camp Widow®, a weekend long event that offers workshops, resources and tools, and a safe place for widowed people to gather, and a local Regional Group meeting.

During COVID-19 demand for SSI’s services increased, not only from people who had experienced the loss of a spouse or partner due to COVID, but even more so from already widowed people grieving in isolation. “As the pandemic developed, it became clear that many of the resources our community regularly depended on were unavailable. I knew that rather than decrease our services, our team needed to increase and adapt to programs we offer to be there for those widowed people desperately coping with their loss alone,” said Hernandez. Now with COVID, Soaring Spirits has a whole new category of widowed people to serve. Many of whom have expressed their gratitude for the programs of Soaring Spirits, some even saying “Soaring Spirits saved my life.”

This year, Soaring Spirits is celebrating its thirteenth anniversary and has proudly served 4,000,000 widowed people worldwide, with virtual and in-person programs and events. Hernandez founded SSI in 2008 after becoming widowed at age 35. She says when she searched for resources to help her with navigating a new life as a widow, she came up empty. She believed if she were having difficulty so were thousands of other widowed people.

Soaring Spirits recently moved its global operations to the Free Clinic of Simi Valley Multi Services Center in Simi Valley, California. The location provides enough space for the organization to conduct in-person in takes with widowed people, as well as a fully stocked resource library. Soaring Spirits’ full list of programs and services includes:

  • Newly Widowed – information packets for those who are recently widowed.
  • Camp Widow® – an uplifting, life-affirming weekend in-person event planned for widowed people by widowed people. This is Soaring Spirits’ signature event, which is held in San Diego, CA, Tampa, FL, and Toronto, Canada.
  • Regional Social Groups – Regular gatherings of widowed people all over the U.S. and in select international locations. There are currently 70 groups in the U.S. and 12 international groups.
  • Widow’s Voice Blog – Thousands of posts written by widowed men and women about love, grief, and life.
  • Widowed Village – 24/7 online community; conversations and topic specific forums.
  • Widowed Pen Pals – An opportunity to connect with another widowed person by email.
  • You Are Not Alone Outreach – Features cards with information about Soaring Spirits’ Newly Widowed Checklist that is given to newly widowed persons, their friends, or family members.
  • About Soaring Spirits International:

    Soaring Spirits International was established in May of 2008 to provide a unique peer-based support community for grieving people. This segment of the bereaved community has been underserved and often overlooked. SSI aims to change that by leveraging a social-media-based infrastructure with key programs designed to inspire, inform, comfort, and provide practical help for the bereaved.

    For more information about Soaring Spirits visit the website at www.soaringspirits.org. SSI is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation based in Simi Valley, California. Follow us on Twitter at @soaringspirits and Facebook at Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.

    Contact: Terry Marvin @314-374-4171

    Email: tmarvin@tbmassociates.com

    Michele Neff Hernandez Named CNN Hero


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