Non-Profit Seeks to Provide Scholarships for Children of Terminally Ill Parents.
Published: September 30, 2016
By: Emily Reed
Oftentimes when a parent is struggling with a terminal illness, the worry, stress and fear of leaving a child can be overwhelming.
“When a parent finds out the devastating news that they have a terminal illness, it is not always death they are afraid of, but leaving their children to deal with things throughout life,” Blue Phoenix Village Inc. founder Billie Glazier says. “I didn’t believe the cliche that it ‘takes a village to raise a child,’ but then I started realizing there are families with extreme needs and learned that it really does take a village.”
In April, Glazier helped organize Blue Phoenix Village Inc., a nonprofit scholarship foundation that intends to bridge students of medically challenged families with academic and professional resources.
The Pinson resident said the idea for the scholarship came about when she started meeting families dealing with terminal illnesses through her homeschool group at Bethany Learning Academy. Glazier has been the administrator for the homeschooling group since 2006.
“I started seeing that families who were struggling with illness or death were worrying about what would happen to their kids or how they would pay for their kids’ futures,” Glazier says. “When you are battling a disease such as cancer, the last thing you want to have to do is worry about if your child will be able to go to college.”
Another inspiration for one of the scholarships was Jennifer Malone, a homeschooling mom through Bethany Learning Academy who worked to teach her daughter at home while she battled cancer.
“I saw the struggle that Jennifer had of not only dealing with a horrible disease, but also making sure her daughter was taken care of,” Glazier says. “Jennifer was very determined to continue taking care of her daughter even throughout her illness. I saw in Jennifer’s eyes the pain she felt at the thought of the future for her daughter. She didn’t verbalize it, but I knew she was worried. That is when I decided I wanted to do my part in helping to provide a sense of hope.”
Malone passed away in May and is the namesake for one of the scholarships available through Blue Phoenix Village to financially assist college-bound students who have a parent with a terminal illness, a recently deceased family member, or individuals who are severely disabled.
“We know we will never replace the loss of a parent, but if we work together, we can prevent additional losses in the lives of children with terminally ill parents,” Glazier says. “If a mom or dad is terminally ill, then the other parent is probably missing a lot of work which makes the children suffer. We hope to be able to prevent the feeling of another loss within the child’s life and keep that child pointed toward the future. We hope to be able to provide a small amount of hope.”
There have been no recipients of the scholarships as of yet. Glazier and a host of volunteers with Blue Phoenix Village are working on fundraising efforts.
A “Cookin With Compassion” fundraising dinner has been planned for Oct. 14 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. Proceeds from the tickets sold will go toward the scholarship funds, Glazier says. The event will feature a buffet dinner, performances by the Ben Guthrie Band and American Idol contestant Jess Meuse, door prizes, guest speaker Luke Milam of Apologia Outdoors and Randa Simpson, who will be the emcee of the event. Tickets for the event are $30 each and available for purchase at www.bpvscholarships.org.
Glazier said local businesses are invited to participate in the event with opportunities for sponsorship. “We would love to have a business sponsor a table at the event,” Glazier says. “Our goal is to raise $10,000. Every little bit counts and all of the money for the scholarships comes from our fundraising efforts.”
Applications for the scholarships are being accepted. Glazier said specific criteria for scholarship eligibility is available on the group’s website at www.bpvscholarships.org.
“Whenever you meet someone, you never know what needs they might be facing at that time,” Glazier says. “We believe people matter and whatever people’s needs are, we hope to be able to help.”
Emily Reed is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to her son, Tobias.