After being together for almost a decade, Chattanoogan, Azuráe Johnson Redmond lost her husband, Matthew Holt Redmond, to lung cancer in 2017. Azurae was 27 years old at the time and five months pregnant with the couple’s second son, little Matthew. Their first son, Holt, was just 10 months old. It was a heartbreaking, yet transformative, experience.
In the midst of tragedy, Azurae developed a passion for helping others figure out, “What do I do, now?”
“I loved being a stay-at-home mom to my special needs children, but I knew I could also help encourage other young, widowed people through the global pandemic, by using the skills I had developed over time. On the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death I was at home watching my two sons play in the sunset’s rays, as it fell across Signal Mountain. Then, suddenly, an idea came to me all at once—start a nonprofit and call it Young, Black & Widowed.”
Helping Others Like Her (And Everyone Else, Too)
Fast-forward to the peak of the pandemic in 2020. Redmond founded a progressive and inclusive nonprofit called Young, Black and Widowed. The 100% volunteer-led nonprofit focuses on helping millennial and Gen Z widow(er)s of color, but welcomes widow(er)s of all ages, races, religions, and the LGBTQ community. It has supported more than 1,000 widow(er)s across the United States in just its first year, and provides all services for free.
“Those who are young, Black and widowed are vibrant, tenacious and thriving in life! Though we deeply mourn the loss of the loves of our lives, our lives are full of light to shine.” says Azurae.
Providing a Confidential Listening Ear and So Much More
“Young, Black & Widowed offers many different resources to help people navigate life after loss. All of the resources are 100% free. Most notably, we have a free daily peer support line available from 10 am – 10 pm ET. This provides a free confidential service where people can share their grief with an empathetic listening ear.”
That is just the start. Additional resources include:
- Multiple weekly virtual support groups for members nationwide, as well as local in-person grief support groups at Common House
- The Matthew Holt Redmond Memorial Scholarship for those continuing higher education
- Connecting widow(er)s with multiple resources from financial advisors to estate planning lawyers across the United States
- The informative ‘Young, Black & Widowed’ community podcast and blog
- Quarterly nationwide meetups for the widowed, such as the most recent Atlanta Falcons vs the Louisiana Saints NFL Game
- Monthly events for local children of the widowed like ‘clay day’ thanks to donated art kits from Scenic City Clay Arts
For more information about all the programs Young, Black & Widowed has to offer, please visit: www.YoungBlackWidowed.org.
Continuing to Build a Community
“We supported more than 1,000 widows and widowers across the United States in our first year,” Azurae says.
Azurae wants to keep building a strong community with even more young, Black widow(er)s.
In the next year, the nonprofit will continue to focus on all 7 areas of wellness. These include mental, physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental wellness. For physical wellness, members across the United States recently took part in the first virtual Young, Black & Widowed Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.
Through her work, Azurae wants to help others see that there is a transformative life after loss.