The Woman Behind Donna's Dreamers
Today I want to share with you the moving story of Sinea Kiley, who founded Donna’s Dreamers, a non-profit that gives scholarships to young people who have lost a parent or guardian to cancer and provides an avenue of support for children and young adults to connect with others who have had similar experiences.
I wouldn’t be able to do her story justice, so without further ado:
Donna’s Dreamers was established in honor of my late mother Donna, who fought a battle with lung cancer and lost that battle in September 2010, my sophomore year in college. My mother Donna was a very supportive and compassionate person. She would do anything for anyone and would often drop what she was doing to lend a hand. It is our hope this non-profit can help Donna continue to “lend a hand.”
Donna dedicated her life to helping and educating others. The list of volunteer work and caring organizations that she’s founded is extensive. She:
- Volunteered at Toward Independent Living and Learning
- Was one of the founding administrators at Little Sprouts in 1985
- Opened her own family daycare that she ran out of her home for 8 years
- Became a massage therapist and instructor and started her own business, “Step to Wellness”
- Helped establish an interactive children’s museum in partnership with WGBH, called “Imajine That”
- Was a founding board member of Inspirational Ones, the sister partner to Donna’s Dreamers
Donna also taught First Aid and CPR, played taxi for my sister and me, cared for her parents, family and friends and was the neighborhood babysitter when someone was in a pinch.
She truly did it all.
And she continued to run her own business and teach massage until she was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2008.
Education was very important to my mother. Donna encouraged and supported not only her children but also those around her to strive to be the best person they could be, while working towards their dreams. She never accepted a simple answer of “I know.” She would reply, “To know and not to do, is not to know.”
She always encouraged me while I was in school, helping me to stay true to my goals and never give up. Every time I questioned my educational path, I would remember what my mother had said and I would refocus.
After my mother’s death I learned a lot about loss, about death and the grieving process. But most of all, I learned a lot about me.
I would not be where I am today if I did not have an excellent support network. That same year that I lost my mother; another student also lost their mother not long apart. Although we were not close friends, our current situation drew us together. We exchanged numbers and if one of us was having a hard day we would go have lunch together or go to the other person’s room and just talk.
Having that individual around made me feel a lot better.
Although I had great friends in the rooms next to mine, they could only imagine what I was going through but had never actually felt what I was going though.
My experiences and struggles over the past six years lead me to establish this non-profit organization, Donna’s Dreamers, that will provide scholarships for children and young adults who have lost a parent or guardian to cancer.
During my grieving I have come to realize exactly how important it is to have people around who are going through the same life struggles as you. Donna’s Dreamers is here to help you connect with those people.
Future plans for Donna’s Dreamers include a space for children and young adults to interact with each other through support groups, counseling sessions and workshops to help them with the grieving process and move forward to healing.