For Kim Bowman, the last 10 days she spent in the hospital with 8-year-old daughter Bella were the most treasured moments with her. But a month after her daughter’s death from a side effect of the radiation treatment she was receiving for brain cancer, Bowman found herself struggling.
“I knew I had to do something with these emotions,” Bowman says. “Through our experiences, we have to make things better.”
Bowman and her husband started the Bella Bowman Foundation in early 2012, in honor of their late daughter, to help other Capital Region families grapple with the loss of a child.
One of Bowman’s goals for the nonprofit is to help expose the younger generation to philanthropic giving. Three years ago, they started Bella’s Royal Celebration to encourage elementary and middle school students to be superheroes themselves through acts of kindness. After a tea and luncheon, Theatre Baton Rouge performs a short play about the Bella Foundation.
“Getting people involved as early as possible is so essential for philanthropy to survive,” Bowman says. “I know those kids are going to have different outlooks than we did in their 20s.”
Her long-term goal for the organization is to build Bella’s House, a place for children to receive end-of-life care and for their parents to receive bereavement support.
Bowman and her husband have visited the Mayo Clinic as well as hospices in Minnesota and Boston to research what they want Bella’s House to be. She also plans to visit facilities in California and Ohio before launching a capital campaign for the project.
In the meantime, Bowman is working to establish a bereavement parent group that would mentor parents who have recently lost a child.
“One thing that disappointed us was that there was no support for someone who lost a child,” she says. “It’s about helping parents who are newly bereaved to help them get through it and help them not feel alone.”