How Sabrina Umstead Smith found purpose in a double tragedy
When Sabrina Umstead Smith founded The Erick J. Umstead Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps the parents of chronically ill children, she turned her own devastating losses into a cause that’s dear to her heart. The guiding motto for her life has always been “helping others is the only way to live”. Her experience of tragedy opened up an avenue for her to help others in a much bigger way than she ever thought possible.
In 1988, Sabrina lost her husband in an apartment fire; she almost died herself. The baby she was carrying at the time was born with underdeveloped lungs and cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation. Three years later, this young son also succumbed to his medical disabilities.
Sabrina knows the strength it takes to care for a chronically ill child. She knows the daily challenges. She knows what it’s like to work full time to support your child.
When she retired from Verizon after 25 years, the time was right for her to start a scholarship program to support people in the very situations that she had found herself in with her son.
Fueled by her burning desire to make a difference in the lives of chronically ill children and their parents and caregivers, she formalized her scholarship idea into her non-profit organization, The Erick J. Umstead Memorial Foundation, Inc., dba Erick’s Place.
Walking toward a bigger vision
Sabrina’s vision for the Foundation involves building a state-of-the-art facility to care for twenty chronically ill children and provide on-site housing and employment for their parents and caregivers. Driven by her quiet dedication, passion and ability to get things done, it’s certain to become a reality.
Sabrina’s Inspirational Message to Parents:
“I want to give parents hope. You are stronger than you know. Your child is a light that ignites you so that you can ignite others. Don’t hide these children. Let the world see how bright and special they are.”