Grieving Mothers Receive Support from Berger Foundation


A support network of mothers who have lost children has received a Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and News Channel 3. Umbrella Ministries will use the $25,000 grant to underwrite its annual Journey of the Heart Conference and other year-round outreach activities that support grieving mothers in the Coachella Valley.

“Every day there are mothers who experience the death of a child who are living in the depths of despair, feeling they have lost all hope. Our volunteers offer comfort and encouragement to these grieving mothers and their families,” said Donna Luke, Vice Chairman of Umbrella Ministries, which she co-founded with her best friend Daisy Catchings-Shader, after Daisy lost her only child in 1996.

After losing her son, Daisy was compelled to reach out to other grieving mothers in the area with hope and encouragement. Since then, the ministry has grown in the Coachella Valley and beyond. Inspired by the love, comfort, peace and hope guests experience while attending the Journey of the Heart Conference, held in Palm Springs, many of these mothers started Umbrella Ministries in their own communities, and now additional conferences are held throughout the country.

“It’s amazing to see how this grassroots organization is touching so many people’s lives in a very meaningful way,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “Donna and Daisy created something very special that others want to emulate, and that is a huge compliment to their vision and accomplishments.”

Beyond the annual conference, Umbrella Ministries offers workshops, luncheons, support groups, parent dinners, and couple retreats. Each of the Coachella Valley events is designed to uplift grieving mothers physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Events include guest speakers that encourage important discussion topics. Mothers celebrate the life of their child by creating treasured memories, candle lighting programs, remembrance walks, as well as dove, balloon and butterfly releases.

The grant will also help provide more care baskets to individuals and families referred to Umbrella Ministries by first responders, funeral homes, faith community leaders or family and friends. These baskets include books about coping with grief and death and items of comfort such as tissues, candles, tea, cups, writing journals, and a prayer shawl.

“Umbrella Ministries is proving that it does not take a lot of money to make a significant impact in the community,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2. “The organization is run completely by volunteers and mostly through personal donations.”

The Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership includes featuring each organization on News Channel 3 programming including “Eye on the Desert” (which airs on CBS Local 2 weeknights at 6:30 p.m.), in public service announcements and on kesq.com.