What do you do when a coworker tragically dies suddenly? You find comfort in remembering the life he/she led and the lives they touched. School Nurses and CMSD Social Workers who were employed at the time of Diane Onunwor & death planned to do just that. In 2008 Diane, a CMSD school nurse, was shot and killed. She is still missed today. We remember her warm smile, her genuine friendliness, her time attending CTU meetings and events, her love of children, her community and church, the difference she made in her schools. A sweet memory remembered by many is that Diane would walk to
Buckeye Woodland School, and as she did she gathered a parade of students who walked with her.
At our Christmas gathering that year, the CMSD school nurses and social workers decided to set up a memorial fund in Diane's name raising money through raffles. We had always intended to find a way that we thought Diane would want us to use the money. We did not anticipate it would take us this long. We set the money aside after all the social workers many of the school nurses were laid off in 2009.
Recently, while watching a video about the nonprofit agency called Fill This House (FTH), an agency that helps youth who age out of the foster care system, Diane Onunwor's name jumped out at me. More like it settled on me like a hand pressing on my shoulder and a gong going off in my ears. After all these years, I am sure Diane has chosen this agency to receive the money in her name.
FTH's all volunteer staff serve those who have very little support and are in need of household items due to lack of belongings. These children have been moving from foster home to foster home to group homes. Moving from school to school. Once they reach the age of 18 they "age out" and have to live independently. Some are able to work part time and go to school part time. Few with scholarships hope to go to school full time. Many may face homelessness and job insecurity. They have no one to rely on to navigate their life's journey. These youth need the basics whether living in an apartment or a dorm.
Candace Ashton, a volunteer with FTH, is enjoying heading a project of buying items needed to set up dorm rooms for college for about 10 of these youths who have received scholarships. (Diane would be right there helping them, too.) The Director, Laura Geuther, says they help about 100 youth yearly to set up their apartments at a cost of $800 each. FTH provides basic items needed for the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and cleaning supplies. Without this group these young adults would be living in housing with
nothing, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, as these dedicated volunteers have seen many time. Laura says her group makes sure the individuals they help "feel worthwhile and worthy because they are."
CTU Nurses Chapter has donated $400.00 to this group. This money will be used to buy new supplies for their apartments as they move on to independent living. The money will help them not only with material items needed but let them know they are valued; there are people who care and there is hope for their future. This is something Diane Onunwar showed daily to her students.