Love Like Jackson is a 501c3 organization that connects families with creative professionals who specialize in childhood sibling loss by financially supporting 12 therapy sessions with our vetted specialized professionals. We focus our care services on children, “the forgotten grievers.” Our vision is to provide bereaved children with every opportunity to process their loss through therapeutic and mental health services.
In February of 2020, Love Like Jackson was founded in St. Louis, Missouri. Within our first two years, we have vetted several professionals from Art, Music, and Play therapies as well as provided therapy sessions for ten grieving children. Our goal for the upcoming year is to double our participating families and grow our creative professional network.
Our Founder’s Story
In July 2019, seven-year-old Jackson Schmitt died suddenly of cancer. His younger brother, Ivan, was only three years old. While the loss of his only brother destroyed his parents, Ivan grieved on his own and in his own way. He worried that his parents would die too and he never wanted to be away from them.
Following the death of her son, Carrie Schmitt sought out grief support services for Ivan. Since he was three years old, she couldn’t find a service that focus on tackling death at such a young age. Carrie connected with local professionals and was able to provide Ivan with play therapy sessions. After a few sessions, Carrie noticed a big difference in Ivan. He was able to communicate how he was feeling through “pretend play” with toys. Furthermore, he began to feel more independent and confident. Carrie wanted to ensure that other children experiencing grief would be able to access such care. As a result, in February 2020, she established a 501c3 called “Love Like Jackson” in order to fill in the gaps of service for smaller-aged children.
To read more about Jackson Schmitt visit here.
Why is it important?
- 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. Children and Grief Statistics (Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying)
- 73,000 children die every year. 83% have surviving siblings. Children and Grief Statistics. Torbic, H. “Children and Grief: But what about the children?” Home Healthcare Nurse. 2011;29(2):67-79)
- Children are considered the forgotten grievers. Especially if the loss is a brother or sister.
- There is a large increase in mental and health risks in bereaved siblings, as well as higher rates of early mortality in adulthood. Fletcher, Jason, Vidal-Fernandez, Marian, and Wolfe, Barbara. “Dynamic and Heterogeneous Effects of Sibling Death on Children’s Outcomes.” PNAS. 2018.
Meet our Team
Carrie Schmitt – BA Psychology/Sociology (Founder)
Carrie Schmitt is a proud mama to two boys, one in heaven and one on earth. She is a writer, fundraiser, grief advocate, and activist for bereaved children and childhood cancer research. She has 18 years of social work experience supporting adults with disabilities. To date, she’s raised over $140K for osteosarcoma research, and collaborated with leading physicians to save children’s lives. In 2021, she started a grief awareness podcast called “Beautiful Tragedy.” She plans on meeting Barack Obama for iced coffee. He just doesn’t know it. Yet.
Alyssa Schafer-BSW (Secretary and Events Lead)
Alyssa graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. She has always been a social worker at heart and at a very young age, she began volunteering her time at various organizations. Professionally, she has worked with non-profits for 10 years in a variety of capacities including case management, staff management, payroll, and administrative roles. She enjoys working with people and helping them to live their best lives in happy, healthy, and constructive ways. When she is not working, Alyssa loves to spend quality time with her family and friends. Her preschooler is the light of her life! She is also an avid photographer and can often be found with her camera in hand.
Melissa Smith MSOT, OTR/L (Treasurer and Administrator Lead)
Melissa is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist with a passion for helping others. She graduated with a master’s degree from Washington University School of Medicine, Program in Occupational Therapy, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McKendree University. Melissa brings 15 years of non-profit experience with management, operations, marketing, finance, fundraising, outcomes measures, and reporting. She enjoys working with people to achieve their goals and live their best life through choice, satisfaction, and independence. She is currently the Associate Director of Care Services with the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter. When she isn’t working, Melissa is keeping up with her very active 4 and 6-year-old boys, enjoys organizing life in her planner, crafting, and watching Fixer Upper.
Nancy B. McGuire-SC, EC, EMC (Community Lead)
Nancy McGuire brings decades of community service to the Love Like Jackson Board. Her work experience includes 35+ years as a Flight Attendant, Flight Service Manager, Director of Training, Policy, and Procedures for Trans World Airlines and American Airlines. She has also worked for Legal Aid of Western Missouri and most recently spent 13 years as a Supervisor at Paraquad Center for Independent Living. Nancy has been a member of the Junior League of Los Angeles, New York City, and Kansas City Missouri. She is also a founding board member of TWA We Care and The Bi-State Pet Food Pantry (both 501c3). Nancy is originally from Lexington, Virginia, and attended Hollins University and Virginia Military Institute. She studied in Buenos Aires and London and has lived in Newark, Los Angeles, New York, Kansas City, and currently in Bridgeton, Mo.
Jessica Kershenski Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, LCSW, RPT
Jessica Kershenski is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked with children and teens for the past 17 years. She has been in private practice for the past year. Prior to that, she worked as a therapist at Mercy Clinic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She counsels children primarily struggling with anxiety, depression, anger issues, trauma, and grief/loss. She is a registered play therapist as well as an EMDR trained therapist.
Interested in joining our team? Please contact us.