Memory Box Artist Program, Inc.
Few people can completely understand a mother’s grief in the loss of an infant, but most have a great compassion for the pain it causes. Tera Leigh has mobilized a community of artists to put their passion and deep sympathy into transforming that pain into a cherished memento. Without children herself, she has an empathy for the hole created by the loss of a child. It was this empathy and a natural need to help people in crisis that she put into practice.
After researching infant bereavement, Tera realized the need for a positive approach to dealing with the loss. Beginning small, she enlisted the aid of her mother and a friend, who hand-painted and distributed 20 boxes to their local hospital, trying to gauge the reaction and importance of such an endeavor. Understanding the need for a much less clinical form of support, the doctors and nurses were grateful for the opportunity to offer grieving mothers the personal touch of the Memory Boxes. Now, the loss had a place and a way to be recognized. Photos, baby earrings, a favorite pacifier—tokens of an undying affection—could be kept and remembered to help move the sorrow to a better place.
With that, the nonprofit organization "Memory Box Artist Program" was born, and Tera has created a heartfelt way for a mother who has lost an infant to acknowledge their albeit brief presence and always keep them close. To date, Tera’s Memory Box program has distributed hand-painted boxes to hospitals in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Venezuela, Germany, and it is still growing. As of August 2003, over 53,000 hand-painted Memory Boxes had been given to families in need. Her web site at www.memoryboxes.org is a wonderful resource for those who want to help by decorating boxes, and offers patterns and suggestions about how to get started.
Her motivation and drive has now provided the Memory Box program with five hundred artists on its mailing list, all of them constantly looking forward to creating a unique way to show they care. Tera’s tireless efforts to get press time, plan fund-raisers and generally spread the word of the program are all done without the aid of financial reward. Instead, it is the true meaning of charity that has made Tera Leigh and her program a success in every sense of the word.